To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 19 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"It was just him I couldn't stand," Dill said. […] "That old Mr. Gilmer doin' him thataway, talking so hateful to him—[…] It was the way he said it made me sick, plain sick. […] The way that man called him 'boy' all the time an' sneered at him, an' looked around at the jury every time he answered-[…] It ain't right, somehow it ain't right to do 'em that way. Hasn't anybody got any business talkin' like that—it just makes me sick." (19.155-165)
Poor Dill. He picks up on the ugly injustice of Mr. Gilmer's questioning, and he's too much of a kid to accept it. Does he notice because he's an outsider? Or is he, like Atticus, naturally sensitive to injustice?
"You're very candid about this, why did you run so fast?"
"I says I was scared, suh."
"If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?"
"Like I says before, it weren't safe for any nigger to be in a—fix like that."
"But you weren't in a fix—you testified that you were resisting Miss Ewell. Were you so scared that she'd hurt you, you ran, a big buck like you?"
"No suh, I's scared I'd be in court, just like I am now."
"Scared of arrest, scared you'd have to face up to what you did?"
"No suh, scared I'd hafta face up to what I didn't do." (19.141-148)
Tom's experience suggests that African-Americans in Maycomb have a whole additional set of fears to those of the white residents. While Mr. Gilmer is trying to suggest that Tom didn't have any reason to be scared if he wasn't doing anything wrong, the fact that Tom is in court on trial for his shows that his fears were very well-founded. Think this never happens today? Unfortunately, someone coined the term "Driving While Black" for a reason.