The tone of
After establishing a tone of folksy reminiscence, the narrative slows down to focus on the trial of Tom Robinson, and the tone becomes serious and foreboding. Seemingly harmless characters such as Mrs. Dubose and Mr. Cunningham turn menacing as Atticus’s decision to defend Tom Robinson incites their racist anger. When Scout and Jem observe Tom Robinson’s trial, the tone is solemn and the narrative is primarily focused on the trial proceedings, with little commentary from Scout. The tone of childish wonder is replaced by a more realistic, pessimistic view of the world, as when Scout remarks, “even the babies were still, and I suddenly wondered if they had been smothered at their mothers’ breasts,” symbolizing the death of Scout’s own innocence. The end of the book, when Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem, contains some humorous references to Scout’s school pageant and her enormous ham costume, but the attack is described in a frightening and dramatic tone. After Bob Ewell is killed, the tone remains serious, more melancholic than nostalgic, as Scout and Jem have learned difficult truths about the world.