Another truly memorable closing argument is the argument in To Kill a Mockingbird. This movie, based on Harper Lee’s critically acclaimed novel, was directed by Robert Mulligan, and released in 1962. The main themes of both the novel and film deal with the issues of race and injustice in a world where people are judged by their outward appearance and color. Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, is the attorney who is appointed to represent Tom Robinson, an African-American man who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white female in the community. The truth of the matter is that Mayella was beaten and raped by her own father for crossing the boundaries of color and kissing a black man (Tom Robinson).
Throughout the course of the trial, the evidence begins to weigh heavily in favor of Tom Robinson’s defense. In fact, it becomes very clear that he is guilty of nothing except having the wrong color skin in an era where color and race means everything. Regardless of the evidence, both Tom and Atticus know that the jury has not been swayed. But Atticus still delivers a closing argument that adheres to the basics discussed in Act II of this article.
The most compelling part of his argument is his conclusion, which clearly is meant to appeal to each juror’s sense of justice. In his conclusion, Atticus Finch states:
Now, gentlemen, in this country our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system. That's no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality!
Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family.
In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.
Here, Atticus not only appeals to their sense of justice, but he also vocalizes his confidence in them. He tells them that he is confident they will make the right decision. He combines his faith in them with a forceful reminder that it is their duty under God to deliver justice in a prejudiced and unjust world. Lastly, he asks them to believe in the man who is Tom Robinson, a man who is deeper than the color of his skin.
Unlike A Time to Kill, the jury is not persuaded to find the black man to be innocent, and a guilty verdict is delivered. Regardless of the outcome of the case, Atticus Finch’s closing argument has gone down in history as one of the most eloquent, forceful, and heartfelt moments in movie history. As an attorney, he did everything he could to sway the jurors into doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the overarching beliefs of the time outweighed the power of his words.
Finally, we’ll conclude with a few main points.