Atticus goes to the jail to protect Tom Robinson from the vicious mob that has gathered outside with the intention of killing Tom. As he valiantly speaks out: ‘You can turn around and go home again, Walter' Atticus is aware that he is putting himself in grave danger but despite this he chooses to protect his client without allowing the fear of what may happen to him as a consequence for his fortitude. This shows how strongly Atticus feels towards the situation as he will go to such great lengths to stand up for what he believes in.
The mob itself is made up of white men from the town of Maycomb. Though Tom has not yet been to trial; they are intent on killing him, showing the horrific extent of the racism in this small town. 'You know what we want, get aside from the door Mr Finch' The group of men did not need to explain why they were here, conveying how obvious their hatred of blacks was, that everyone in the town would know already the terms under which the mob had gathered. This also shows Atticus knew his neighbours well, and how awfully they were capable of behaving. The mob behave with a pack mentality, focussed only on the hunt, they are blind to considering any different approaches or the consequences of their actions. This is undoubtedly one of the most critical components of the novel, Lee relies on this episode to portray Atticus’ genuine character. He is willing to sacrifice his safety to stand up for what he believes in. This particular section also exposes the true nature of the racism, in that this was not a spur of the moment act, rather a coldblooded calmly thought out plan, one year after the initial event took place.
The most memorable part of this chapter comes when the children, who have followed their father to the jail, intervene and through their innocence are successful in sending the mob home. 'You brought us some hickory nuts one time remember' Scout recognizes one of the men, Mr Cunnigham and not realising the seriousness of the situation she begins chatting to him. This shames the men and it is then that they return home. Scouts innocence in childishness ultimately saves Atticus and Tom as the mob begin to see Atticus as a person and father again and not just as the lawyer of a black man. They realise their irrational behaviour and back off, returning home to their families.
Lee demonstrated effectively the remarkable character of Atticus, developing different aspects in different contexts throughout the novel. The way in which Atticus teaches his children tells us how Atticus thinks. Rather than expecting his children to respect him solely because he is their father, Atticus believes he should treat them honourably and with fairness therefore they will respect him...