Tom Robinson's Predicament...
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.” ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
The year is 1935... and the scene a courtroom in Alabama's Maycomb County. Tom Robinson, a young Black man, is accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell.
Atticus Finch, the counsel for the defence, proved that Tom Robinson could not have given Mayella Ewell the cuts and bruises, since whoever that gave her the beating had beaten her with his left fist, while Tom Robinson's left arm is, thanks to a machinery accident, disabled. Tom Robinson's innocence is obvious to any relatively unprejudiced person in the courtroom. The trial proceedings, however, were in a tug-of-war between the power of evidence and the power of racial prejudice.
Tom Robinson can't afford to cast aspersions on the white girl, lest he'd be perceived as a "lying Negro." Yet, he can't affort to not publicize Mayella Ewell's attempt to kiss him; because the failure to publicize it, is certain to give him a guilty verdict.
Tom Robinson foresaw this predicament at her house when she grabbed him on that fateful day. If he pushes her away, then he will be accused of having assaulted her. Yet, if he doesn't push her away, he will still be accused of having assaulted her. It's a situation of damned if you do... and damned if you don't.
So he decided to run away from her, a decision that he found to be the most neutral thing to do in spite of knowing full well that even this action will be taken as a sign of guilt.
Mr. Gilmer: "... why did you run so fast?"
Tom: "I says I was scared."
Gilmer: "If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?"
Tom Robinson's predicament arose from what the experts called testimonial injustice. (In testimonial injustice, the speaker receives deflated credibility from the hearers.) This story is from Harper Lee's... To Kill a Mockingbird.
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