Scout talking sleepily at the end of the novel to Atticus
Significance: Scout is talking here about a novel Atticus was reading, The Gray Ghost, a book where a character is accused of committing a crime he didn't commit, is pursued, and then is proven innocent at the end. Story parallels Tom Robinson's, but basically encompasses the themes of innocence, judgment, and empathy in the novel. Can be interpreted as reference to many characters - Tom Robinson, accused despite innocence and part of a loving family despite stereotypes surrounding black people - Boo Radley, who the kids were scared of in the beginning of the novel but grow to admire as they find out more about him - Mrs. Dubose, sick and mean on the outside but kind-hearted and going through pain in reality.
According to Atticus to jem, there's just something about race that makes white people crazy. His holding up Jem as an exception because of his youth suggests that whatever that X factor is, it's learned and not innate (and thus, perhaps can be changed through education?). He also acknowledges, in case it wasn't already obvious, that law isn't a pure realm free of the prejudices that plague everyday life—it's subject to the same problems as society at large. Usually Atticus is a voice of hope for change, but here he flatly says that racism is a "fact of life," suggesting that losing Tom's case severely dented his optimism concerning human nature—or else that, having sat through the case, Jem is ready to hear a truer, grimmer version of how the world works, instead of the sanitized Disney version. " To Maycomb, Tom's death was typical. Typical of a ***** to cut and run. Typical of a ****'s mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future, just run blind first chance he saw. Funny thing, Atticus Finch might've got him off scot free, but wait-? Hell no. You know how they are. Easy come, easy go. Just shows you, that Robinson boy was legally married, they say he kept himself clean, went to church and all that, but when it comes down to the line the veneer's mighty thin. ***** always comes out in 'em. "