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Chapter 9

Professor Bradley Greenburg from Northeastern Illinois University explains Chapter 9 in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Chapter 9 | Summary



Christmas is near, and Scout and Jem learn that Atticus has taken the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Scout learns this when a classmate announces the news at school to embarrass her. Atticus explains that Tom Robinson is a member of Calpurnia's church. He tells Scout that defending Tom is the right thing to do, even if other people don't agree.

The case won't go to trial until the following summer. Atticus tells Scout to keep her wits about her if anyone teases her about his role. When she learns he won't win the case, she asks him why he is taking it. Atticus explains that you should always try, even if you know you can't win.

On Christmas Eve the Finches pick up Atticus's brother, Jack, who has come for the holidays. On Christmas they make their annual holiday visit to Finch's Landing, the family homestead. When Francis, Aunt Alexandra's annoying grandson, calls Atticus a "nigger-lover" to Scout's face, she loses her temper and starts fighting him.

To her disappointment Uncle Jack sides with Francis without hearing her side of the story. Once home Scout angrily tells Uncle Jack what Francis said. He becomes upset and wants to go back to Aunt Alexandra's to tell her what really happened, but Scout swears him to secrecy. She would rather have Atticus think they were fighting about something else than know she had let him down.

Later Scout overhears a private conversation between Atticus and Jack about raising children, Scout's temper, and what Atticus fears his children will face in light of the Robinson trial. Scout is relieved to find that Uncle Jack has respected her request for secrecy. As they talk Atticus explains why he felt taking the case was important and how he hopes the fallout will not change Jem and Scout. Atticus suddenly calls out to Scout to go to bed, and it occurs to her later that maybe she was meant to hear every word that was said.


While Christmas at Finch's Landing should have been a fun time for Atticus and his children, it turns out to be anything but when Scout and Francis start fighting. Francis's criticism of Atticus for defending Tom Robinson is representative of what many Maycomb residents think. In an instance of situational irony, Atticus is concerned about protecting his children from angry outsiders when some of the greatest criticism actually comes from his own family.

Another item to keep in mind is Uncle Jack's treatment of Scout right after the fight. Had he taken the time to actually listen to her side of the story he would have known that Francis incited the fight with hateful comments. Uncle Jack's unfair treatment of Scout, including his unwillingness to hear the whole story, foreshadows the inequity that comes later during the Tom Robinson trial.

Documents for Chapter 9

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Questions for Chapter 9

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Through close reading of chapter 9 and 13 of The Catcher in the Rye write an essay in which you show how Salinger uses narrative point of view, imagery, and motif of phoniness to explore the way in wh
Through close reading of Chapter 9 and 3 of the Catcher in the rye, write an essay in which you show how Salinger uses narrative point of view, imagery and the motif of phoniness to explore the way In
Review Chapter 9 in A Christian Philosophical Journey carefully as you work on Worldview Question #5 below. Use this chapter to help you with your answers (and any further synthesis). Read Worldview Q
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