In a small Alabama town in 1932, widowed lawyer Atticus Finch strives to create an atmosphere free from hatred and prejudice for his two children, six-year-old Scout, a tomboy, and her ten-year-old brother, Jem. The youngsters lead a carefree life, racing about the town, jeering at eccentric Mrs. Dubose and frightening themselves and their new friend, six-year-old Dill Harris, with exaggerated stories about Arthur "Boo" Radley, a supposedly mentally handicapped neighbor whom they have never seen. When Atticus agrees to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Violet Ewell, the children must defend themselves against the racist taunts of their classmates. Though Atticus is able to demonstrate Tom's innocence by forcing Mayella to admit that her father beat her when he found her making advances toward Tom, the all-white jury returns a verdict of guilty. Atticus tries to have the decision reversed, but before he can do so, Tom attempts to escape and is killed. In revenge against Atticus, Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem, but Boo, who has secretly watched over the children and has left gifts for them in a tree trunk, saves them by killing Ewell. Unwilling to expose Boo to any publicity, Sheriff Heck Tate concludes that Ewell fell on his own knife and decides that there will be no trial.