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Summary and Detailed Notes for Chapter 9 and 10 of To Kill a Mocking Bird

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Brief Summary of Chapters 9 & 10

Atticus’s Defense of Tom Robinson

Atticus Finch explains his defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of a crime, to his daughter Scout. He faces criticism from the townspeople but is committed to defending Robinson. Atticus advises Scout not to resort to violence and to fight with her head. He reminds her that they are fighting against their own friends and to remember that they are still friends.

Christmas with the Finch Family

Scout and Jem spend Christmas with their family. The narrator’s family always spends Christmas at Finch’s Landing, and despite the unpleasant company of visiting Francis Hancock, the good cooking is some consolation. Uncle Jack, a doctor and the youngest in the family, brings mysterious packages and anecdotes to entertain the children. Uncle Jack visits and disapproves of Scout’s use of curse words. They decorate a Christmas tree and receive air rifles as gifts. Atticus warns them not to misuse them. They visit Finch’s Landing. The context describes the Finch family’s house, its layout and internal arrangements, and includes a legend about the Yankees.

Conflict with Cousin Francis

The protagonist interacts with their cousin, Francis, and finds him boring. Scout’s Aunt Alexandra disapproves of her tomboyish ways and wants her to behave more like a lady. Despite Scout’s efforts to prove her civility, her aunt continues to isolate her. However, the family enjoys a delicious Christmas dinner cooked by Alexandra, and Scout’s cousin Francis reveals her plans to marry Dill someday. Jean Louise’s cousin Francis insults her and her family by calling her uncle Atticus a “nigger-lover” and claiming that he is ruining the family. Aunt Alexandra gets involved in the argument. In this context, Scout gets into a physical fight with Francis after he insults her for being a “nigger-lover.”

Scout’s Conversation with Uncle Jack

Uncle Jack breaks up the fight and scout is scolded for using inappropriate language by both Uncle Jack and Atticus. Scout tells Uncle Jack about the argument with Francis, who called Atticus a “nigger-lover”. Scout pleads with Uncle Jack not to tell Atticus, who didn’t want to upset her. Scout asks her uncle about the meaning of a word but is given a confusing answer.

Raising Children in Difficult Times

Atticus and Uncle Jack discuss their approach to raising children and preparing Scout and Jem for difficult times ahead.
Difficulty of Defending Tom Robinson
Atticus discusses the difficulty of defending Tom Robinson due to racism among the jury. He hopes to protect his children from bitterness and gain an appeal.

Atticus’ Characteristics
Atticus is also described as being older and less masculine than other fathers. The narrator’s father, Atticus, is known for his love of reading and disinterest in guns. He defended a black man, Tom Robinson, leading to negative gossip in town. Atticus forbids public fighting but supports defending family. It is considered a sin to kill mockingbirds. Miss Maudie shares that Atticus is still active in ways the children don’t know, including being a skilled checker-player.

Scout’s Feelings
Scout is ashamed of her father’s lack of accomplishments, but her neighbor, Miss Maudie, reminds her that everyone has different talents. Scout gets in trouble for pointing a gun at Miss Maudie, and later goes on an adventure with Jem to hunt for a rabbit or squirrel.

Tim Johnson
Jem and Scout notice a sick dog named Tim Johnson who is acting strange. They tell Calpurnia who calls Atticus and warns the neighbors of the danger. Calpurnia tries to alert the Radleys but they do not answer. Calpurnia warns of a mad dog, but nobody takes notice until Atticus and Sheriff Tate arrive. They wait for the dog to approach, which it does in a sickly state.

Atticus’ Expert Marksmanship
Atticus shoots a rabid dog named Tim Johnson in front of the Radley house, with the help of Sheriff Tate. Jem and Scout watch in amazement as their father reveals his expert marksmanship. Mr. Tate and Atticus shoot a mad dog, Tim Johnson. Jem and Scout watch from Miss Stephanie’s front steps, and learn that Atticus was known for being a skilled shooter. Jem and Scout witness their father, Atticus, shoot a rabid dog with incredible accuracy. They later learn that he used to be known as the best marksman in Maycomb, but he never boasted about it.

Detailed Notes on Chapter 9 & 10

Atticus Defends Tom Robinson

•Jem and Scout are discussing Cecil Jacobs’ announcement that Atticus defends black people.

•Scout asks if Atticus defends black people, to which he confirms and corrects her use of the word “nigger”.

•Scout questions why Atticus defends black people and wonders if all lawyers do it.

•Atticus explains that he wants to hold his head high and represent the county, and everyone has to defend someone at some point in their career.

•Atticus also reveals that this case affects him personally and he couldn’t ask Jem and Scout to mind him if he didn’t defend Tom.

Atticus’ Words of Wisdom

•Atticus advises Scout to fight with her head and not her fists, despite the ugly talk at school.

•Atticus explains to Scout that they are fighting their friends in the present, not the enemy like in the past.

•Scout remembers Atticus’ advice and resists fighting with Cecil, feeling noble for doing so.

•Christmas brings disaster with the arrival of Aunt Alexandra and her son Francis.

•Scout makes no mention of Uncle Jimmy, as he never spoke to her except for once.

•Aunt Alexandra remains aloof and reserved towards Scout, unlike Uncle Jack who is welcome during Christmas.

Christmas at Finch’s Landing with Aunty, Uncle Jack, and Francis

•Henry, Aunty and Uncle Jimmy’s son, had a son named Francis who they left with Atticus for Christmas. To my dismay, we always had to go to Francis’ house for Christmas.

•Aunt Alexandra, Atticus’ sister, was cold and distant. Uncle Jack, who looked like Aunt Alexandra, was one of the few doctors who didn’t scare me.

•One Christmas, I had a splinter in my foot that Uncle Jack teased me about. He ended up pulling it out when I was laughing, joking about relativity science.

•Uncle Jack brought long, thin packages when he arrived on Christmas Eve, but refused to tell us what was inside. Jem asked about Uncle Jack’s cat, Rose Aylmer.

Uncle Jack’s Visit

•Uncle Jack showed the children pictures of his beautiful yellow dog.

•Scout joked that the dog had become fat from eating leftover fingers and ears from the hospital.

•Atticus defended Scout and said she was just trying to test Uncle Jack’s sense of humor.

•Uncle Jack warned Scout about her use of inappropriate language.

•Uncle Jack reminded Scout that she needed to grow up to be a lady and not use foul language.

•Atticus gave Jem and Scout air rifles for Christmas.

•Atticus cautioned the children to be careful with the rifles and not to aim them indoors.

•Finch’s Landing was once a busy place where the Finch family’s slaves unloaded goods.

Description of the Finch House

•The Finch house was located at the end of a two-rut road, surrounded by dark trees.

•It was a two-storied white house with porches circling it upstairs and downstairs.

•Simon Finch built the house in his old age to please his wife, with the porches making it unique.

•The house had six bedrooms, with four for their daughters, one for the son, and one for visiting relatives.

•The daughters’ rooms could be accessed by one staircase, Welcome’s room, and guest room by another.

•The Daughters’ Staircase was in the ground-floor bedroom of the parents.

•The kitchen was separate and accessible by a wooden catwalk, and a rusty bell on a pole in the backyard was used as a distress signal.

•There was a widow’s walk on the roof, and Simon used it to oversee his overseer.

•One legend had it that a Finch female saved her trousseau from raiders but got stuck in the door of the Daughters’ Staircase.

•At the Landing, the kids gave each other presents, with Francis being the most boring child among them.

Atticus and Aunt Alexandra’s differing views on Scout’s attire

•Atticus rarely speaks sharply, but once told Aunt Alexandra, “Sister, I do the best I can with them!” in response to her fanatical focus on Scout’s attire.

•Aunt Alexandra believed Scout wearing overalls made her less of a lady, but Atticus didn’t mind her dressing that way.

•Aunt Alexandra’s vision for Scout’s deportment involved playing with tea sets and wearing jewelry, while being a ray of sunshine in Atticus’s life.

•Scout suggested one could be a ray of sunshine in pants, but Aunt Alexandra insisted she behave like a sunbeam.

•Scout asked to sit at the big table during Christmas dinner, but Aunt Alexandra refused, continuing to isolate her from the adults.

•Atticus couldn’t use his influence to change Aunt Alexandra’s mind, and he noted that she didn’t understand girls well.

•Despite the tension, Christmas dinner was a modest feast of delicious food, and afterwards, Jem and Scout hung out with Francis and talked about getting married one day.

Family Tensions

•Francis tells Jean Louise that Atticus is a nigger-lover, implying he associates with black people, which mortifies their family.

•Jean Louise is angry and demands Francis take back his statement, but he refuses and goes to the kitchen.

•Jean Louise waits on the steps and when Francis emerges, he complains about being trapped by her. Aunt Alexandra appears and scolds them both.

•The tension centers on Atticus’s ‘unconventional’ views and the family’s discomfort with it.

•Jean Louise’s frustration with her family’s prejudices and ignorance starts to build, setting the stage for her disillusionment in the future.

Scout fights Francis

•Francis taunts and insults Scout in the yard, calling her a “n*****-lover”.

•Scout punches Francis in the face, cutting her knuckle on his teeth.

•Uncle Jack breaks up the fight and scolds both children, asking who started it.

•Francis and Scout blame each other, but Uncle Jack ultimately punishes Scout for her language.

•Scout tells Uncle Jack she hates him and retreats to her room.

•Uncle Jack apologizes to Scout and asks if she still hates him, but Scout remains silent.

Scout’s Argument with Uncle Jack over Calling Francis a Name

•Scout argues with Uncle Jack after he scolds her for calling Francis a name.

•Scout believes that Uncle Jack didn’t understand the situation and didn’t give her a chance to explain.

•Scout tells Uncle Jack that Francis called Atticus a name and why she reacted the way she did.

•Uncle Jack becomes angry at Francis and wants to do something about it, but Scout asks him not to involve Atticus.

•Scout asks Uncle Jack to tie up her injured hand.

Conversation between Uncle Jack and Atticus

•While cleaning and bandaging Scout’s knuckles, Uncle Jack tells a tale about a near-sighted old gentleman who had a cat named Hodge.

•Scout asks Uncle Jack what a whore-lady is, and he tells her a story about an old Prime Minister who blew feathers in the air and tried to keep them there.

•Uncle Jack confesses to Atticus that Scout taught him how to treat children, and that he romped on her.

•Atticus and Uncle Jack discuss Scout’s behavior and language, and how she will have to face some ugly things soon.

•Atticus and Uncle Jack also talk about how to handle Scout’s hotheadedness, and how she follows Jem’s example.

Atticus’s Role in To Kill a Mockingbird

•Atticus explains to Uncle Jack that the evidence in Tom Robinson’s trial is based on Tom’s word against the Ewells’ and admits it is a difficult case to win.

•Atticus hopes to avoid bitterness and prejudice for his children but faces the inevitable discrimination and racism in Maycomb.

•Atticus expresses hope that Jem and Scout trust him for answers and not their town, indicating his desire to instill values of justice and equality in his children.

•Atticus is described as feeble and too old to play with Jem but a skilled lawyer who works hard to defend Tom’s rights.

•Atticus wears glasses and is nearly blind in his left eye, a symbol of his ability to see beyond the mere appearance and perception of things.

The characterization of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

•Atticus Finch is not a typical father figure as he does not hunt, play poker, fish, drink or smoke, preferring to read at home instead.

•However, his involvement in the defense of Tom Robinson causes him to become the subject of negative gossip in the small town.

•Despite rumors to the contrary, Scout Finch is not a coward and is willing to fight anyone who speaks ill of her family on private property.

•Atticus does not teach his children to shoot, but Uncle Jack offers rudimentary instruction.

•Atticus believes that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird and that they bring music for people to enjoy without causing harm.

•Miss Maudie suggests that Atticus’ age and experience make him a formidable opponent in areas such as making airtight wills or playing checkers.

Jem’s talents and shooting Tim Johnson.

•Scout was ashamed when Miss Maudie praised Jem’s talent of playing Jew’s Harp.

•Atticus warned Scout not to point her air-rifle at anyone again.

•Calpurnia couldn’t name the talents Atticus had.

•Atticus refused to participate in the Methodist’s touch football game, whereas every father in town was playing.

•Jem and Scout went exploring with their air-rifles and found Tim Johnson, the town pet, acting odd.

•Jem aimed at Tim Johnson and shot him, revealing his sharpshooting ability.

Tim Johnson’s Strange Behavior

•Jem and the narrator go to Calpurnia to alert her of something strange with an old dog.

•Calpurnia tells them to take care of it themselves, but Jem insists something is wrong with the dog.

•Calpurnia eventually follows them to see the dog, but initially, she can’t see it.

•The dog, Tim Johnson, is spotted, and he appears to be walking erratically.

•Jem and Calpurnia run to the Finch household, where Calpurnia immediately contacts Atticus, describing the situation.

•Calpurnia also contacts other neighbors to warn them of the danger.

•The community responds by locking their doors, and Calpurnia goes to the Radley Place to warn them.

The Arrival of the Mad Dog

•Calpurnia warns Atticus and Jem about a mad dog on their street.

•Despite Calpurnia’s warning, no one acknowledges it until Atticus and Sheriff Tate arrive.

•Sheriff Tate describes the mad dog’s current state as being in the “twitchin’ stage.”

•Atticus and Sheriff Tate contemplate their actions and decide to wait for the dog to come closer.

•The children observe the dog’s behavior, including its inability to stay on the road and its slow, steady advance.

•The dog appears to be dedicated to one course and being pulled gradually towards them.

Atticus shoots Tim Johnson

•Jem thought Tim Johnson was looking for a place to die.

•Tim Johnson, infected with rabies, stopped in front of Radley Place.

•Atticus, Sheriff Heck Tate, Jem and Scout were present.

•Atticus was given the rifle and asked to shoot Tim Johnson.

•Atticus was hesitant as he hadn’t shot a gun in thirty years.

•Atticus took the gun, walked out into the street and shot Tim Johnson in one try.

•Mr. Tate complimented Atticus but said he was a little to the right in the direction of the shot.

•Atticus said he would have preferred to use a shotgun.

Atticus Finch’s shooting skills

•Atticus shoots Tim Johnson, a rabid dog, in the street with one shot.

•The neighborhood comes alive after the incident, and Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie walk down the steps.

•Atticus warns Jem not to go near the dog, emphasizing its danger even though it’s dead.

•Jem is in shock after witnessing Atticus’s shooting skills, and Miss Maudie reveals Atticus’s nickname was Ol’ One-Shot when he was younger.

•Jem is surprised to learn this, and Miss Maudie speculates that Atticus doesn’t hunt anymore because he considers it a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Symbolism of Atticus’s marksmanship

•Miss Maudie praises Atticus’s marksmanship as a gift from God but criticizes pride in talent.

•Zeebo disposes of the infected dog Tim Johnson with Atticus’s gun and reminds them not to come near the area.

•Scout and Jem disagree on Atticus’s silence about his gift, Jem viewing it as unimportant to Atticus’s identity.

•The narrator introduces the character of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, whose real property serves as a focal point on their route to downtown Maycomb.

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