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Kill a Mocking Bird


The Author
Chapter 1
Chapter 2-3
Chapter 4-5
Chapter 6-8
Chapter 9-11
Chapter 12-13
Chapter 14-15
Chapter 16-17
Chapter 18-19
Chapter 20-22
Chapter 23-25
Chapter 26-27



Chapters 18 and 19


Mayella testifies, clearly terrified, and she reveals herself to be a lonely seventeen year-old, reasonably well kept considering her surroundings, whose daily task is to bring up seven siblings and care for her drunken father.  She says that she called Tom Robinson inside the fence offering to pay him to break up a dresser for her.  Once he was inside the house he grabbed her and took advantage of her.

Atticus asks why she didn’t put up a better fight and why didn’t her screams bring in the other children and most crucially, how did Tom Robinson manage to perpetrate the crime of rape when his left hand is useless, torn apart by a cotton gin when he was a boy?

Mayella squirms under this attack and Atticus begs her to admit that there was no rape, but like a cornered animal, she shouts at him and the courtroom calling them cowards if they don’t convict Tom Robinson. She then breaks down and refuses to answer any more questions.

A recess is called and Mr. Underwood, the newspaper editor, spots the three white children in the balcony, but he doesn’t tell Atticus, but he may include it in the social section of his newspaper.

The prosecution rests.

Atticus now calls the only witness he has, Tom Robinson.

Tom's story about the events contradicts Mayella's completely. According to Tom, Mayella, who asked him onto her property many times before, asked Tom to help her fix the door to her house. Tom enters the property and proceeds to examine the door. Finding nothing wrong with the door he asks if there is really anything that he can do for her. She asks Tom to lift a box down from atop a high dresser. Tom notices that, oddly, no children are on the property. Mayella explains that she finally saved up enough money to send all the children to town to buy ice cream. Tom remarks how generous Mayella was to do that and proceeds to reach for the box. As he does so, Mayella grabs him around his legs. Tom steps down and faces Mayella who hugs him around his chest and kisses his mouth. Scared and confused, Tom tries to push himself away from Mayella without hurting her. Bob Ewell catches the two of them together in his living room and proceeds to yell at Mayella. Tom runs and admits that he does not know who beat her (although it seems obvious that Bob Ewell, racist and ashamed of his daughter, beat Mayella).

When Gilmer cross-examines Tom he calls him boy and treats him with blatant disrespect. He then brings to light a previous problem that Tom had had with the law. He continues by asking Tom why he had helped Mayella so many times without ever taking her money. Tom explains that he felt sorry for Mayella who always seemed to do all the work on the property and had to take care of so many children. Upon hearing that Tom felt sorry for Mayella, the people in the courtroom begin to murmur and Tom realizes that he has made a mistake. He also accuses Tom of lying to conceal his obvious guilt and gets him to admit that even though one arm was useless, he still had enough strength with his other arm to overpower a girl and rape her. When Mr. Gilmore asks Tom why he ran away, Tom said that he was afraid of being tried in court, not for what he did, but for what he didn't do.

Mr. Gilmer accuses Tom of lying and making up the whole story contained in his testimony.

The white children watch the proceedings with disbelief and Dill begins to cry and Scout takes him out of the courtroom.



The two accusers Bob and Mayella Ewell are a gruesome pair.  The father is villainous and the daughter is pitiful. Their miserable existence almost makes the reader consider Mayella to also be an innocent victim.

Atticus was desperate to make Mayella confess that no rape took place. He knew he had to achieve this in order to free his client, and with the flaws he had clearly exposed for everyone to see in both of their testimonies, he felt he had a chance of success.

Both the Ewell’s are, however, slaves to their prejudice and although it may be acceptable that Bob Ewell hits his daughter, treats her like a drudge and perhaps even molests her, it is not acceptable, or even possible, for a black man, Tom Robinson, to pity Mayella.  This actually compounds his guilt in the eyes of the white community.

Mayella must stick to her story that she was raped, because the alternative is that she would have to live with the shame of being attracted to a black man for the rest of her life, and it would be impossible for her to live with that stigma. This means, of course, that in order to cover her shame, she has to destroy Tom Robinson, but in her eyes he is only a black man.

One final shock, which Scout had, was when she heard the prosecutor calling Tom ‘boy’, a typically racist remark.

The reader is left with the impression that the Ewell’s are slaves to their prejudice, ironically Tom Robinson, descendant of slaves, has more freedom of spirit than the whites who condemn him. He will go through the rest of his life knowing he was innocent whilst the Ewell’s and the white community, if they have any conscience at all, will have this guilt hanging over them.

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