How Harper Lee makes Mayella Ewell a Vulnerable yet Contemptible Character in To Kill a Mockingbird

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It is Mayella's deceit that brings Tom Robinson to trial. Though she may not be forgiven for this lie, Atticus and Scout feel sympathy for her because of the terrible poverty in which she lives. Whenever Scout feels sorry for Mayella we do as well as we are viewing the trial from her point of view. When Tom Robinson?s trial begins, evidence begins to show that Tom Robinson is actually innocent. When Mr Ewell takes the stand we see that he is not a soft hearted person because he is blaming Tom Robinson for something that he has not done, ?I seen that nigger yonder ruttin? on my Mayella? This shows a man?s racism and inhumanity towards another man. Tom Robinson hasn?t done the community any wrong but is a social outcast for being black which is not his fault. We also learn a bit about Mr Ewell. Lee states earlier on, ?The varmints had a lean of it, for the Ewell?s gave the dump through gleaning every day? This suggests that the Ewells live of the town?s dump which isn?t a very hygienic way of living, but then again Mr Ewell is an unemployed alcoholic. As we are told earlier, ?No public health officer could free them from congenital defeats, various worms and diseases indigenous to filthy surroundings? Mr Ewell is a terrible father due to his abusiveness and neglect. He doesn?t care for or look after his children and so Mayella, his eldest daughter, has to carry out his job. ?Nobody was quite sure ho many children were on the place. Some people said six, others said nine? With lots of children to take care of Mayella was only able to get two to three years of education and she had no friends. This is why when Atticus asks her about her friends she thinks he is making fun of her. After having to live a life like this we don?t know why Mayella would like to defend her hard-hearted father, but she probably did this because she was scared of what he would do to her if she told the truth. We feel sympathetic towards her at this point but there is still a sense of hatred towards her as she is letting an innocent person being jailed who actually helped her a lot when no one did. Atticus questions Mayella very differently compared to the way he questions Bob Ewell. Through Atticus? language we learn that he does sympathise with Mayella and he does realise she is a victim of her father?

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