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Atticus is appointed by the court to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Although many of Maycomb\'s citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees to defend Tom to the best of his ability. Other children taunt Jem and Scout for Atticus\' actions, calling him a "nigger-lover". Scout is tempted to stand up for her father\'s honor by fighting, even though he has told her not to. For his part, Atticus faces a group of men intent on lynching Tom. This danger is averted when Scout, Jem, and Dill shame the mob into dispersing by forcing them to view the situation from Atticus\' and Tom\'s points of view.
Because Atticus does not want them to be present at Tom Robinson\'s trial, Scout, Jem, and Dill watch in secret from the colored balcony . Atticus establishes that the accusers¡XMayella and her father, Bob Ewell, the town drunk ¡Xare lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual advances towards Tom and her father caught her and beat her badly. Despite significant evidence of Tom\'s innocence, the jury convicts him. Jem\'s faith in justice is badly shaken, as is Atticus\', when a hopeless Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison.
Humiliated by the trial, Bob Ewell vows revenge. He spits in Atticus\' face on the street, tries to break into the presiding judge\'s house, and menaces Tom Robinson\'s widow. Finally, he attacks the defenseless Jem and Scout as they walk home on a dark...