What Is the Main Conflict in “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

The main conflict in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is Atticus’ decision to represent Tom Robinson after Bob Ewell accuses Tom of raping his daughter, Mayella. Atticus’ two children, Scout and Jem, are taunted by other children for their father’s decision. Some of the townspeople are also angered by Atticus’ decision because Tom is a black man. The story is set in a segregated town.

The beginning of “To Kill a Mockingbird” focuses primarily on Scout and Jem’s fascination with a reclusive neighbor named Boo Radley. Over time, the man leaves small gifts at the children’s treehouse but never meets them in person. After Tom’s trial begins, Scout starts to fight children who speak badly of her father, and Atticus is forced to defend Tom against some of the town’s racist residents.

During Tom’s trial, Atticus presents evidence that Bob and Mayella lied about the rape, but the jury ultimately convicts Tom of the crime. Soon after, Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison. Angered by the outcome of the trial, Bob attacks Scout and Jem as they walk home. Boo Radley comes to their defense, and Scout is left wishing she had repaid him for the gifts he left her at the treehouse.