To Kill a Mockingbird

What is the nightmare in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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The "nightmare that was upon us" is how Scout describes, in Ch. 15, the events that led up to Atticus' confrontation with the townsmen while he was protecting Tom in jail. For the first time, Scout and Jem witness the hatred of the mob and the horrors of racism, and see their father in a vulnerable, and perhaps deadly, position.