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The protagonist of the novel is Atticus Finch, who is the prime initiator and coordinator of various events in the novel. In his involvement with the poor whites of the community, like Walter Cunningham, as well as the deprived blacks, like Tom Robinson, he is portrayed as a just, sincere and a greatly considerate human being. He has clear-cut values and beliefs, and it is his sincere wish that his children too grow up with a broad outlook and an unprejudiced way of thinking. He is indifferent to what others have to say or think about his actions, and he is steadfast in his beliefs of equality and liberty.
Bob Ewell serves as the perfect villain in the novel, with his laid-back way of living and the utter disregard he has for other human beings. In the beginning he comes across only as a slovenly figure, uncaring about his family and brash in his dealings with others. But after the Tom Robinson episode, it is alarming to discover him an unfeeling, pretentious no-gooder who has no qualms about sending an innocent bystander to the gallows. Even after winning the case, on realizing that he has lost his respect in the people (because of Atticus), he even attempts harming Atticusí children, thus leaving not an iota of sympathy for himself in the reader.
The events in the novel build up to the singularly important and climactic scene of the courtroom, where Atticus tries to defend Tom Robinson from the allegations of Bob and Mayella Ewell. The tension is maintained throughout the trial as to whether Atticus would or would not win the case. Though the audience feels strongly for Tomís plight and it is apparent that he is innocent, the jury delivers the verdict that Tom is guilty. The immediate response to this is extreme disappointment and dejection, but the juryís verdict is final.
The most surprising and touching thing is that instead of rebuking Atticus for losing the case, the black community showers him with food, as a gesture of their appreciation for having at least taken up the case and defending Tom. Tom is obviously the most upset, but Atticus is only quiet and exhausted. Ewell, on realizing his lost standing in the community, tries to make life miserable, first for Helen Robinson, Tomís widow, and then even Atticus. He finally resorts to harming Scout and Jem, but in the process loses his own life. Simultaneously, Scoutís long cherished dream of meeting Boo Radley is also fulfilled. Thus the trial reveals a number of accidental as well as expected outcomes.