Chapter 19 when asked "Did you resist her advance?", Tom answered "I tried to 'thout being' ugly to her. What does he mean by this ?

1 Answer | Add Yours

cldbentley's profile pic

cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Harper Lee did an excellent job of using dialect throughout her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.  The quote you have referred to here is an example of the Southern dialect used by Tom Robinson as a member of Maycomb's African-American society and culture. 

When Atticus asks Tom Robinson if he "resist{ed} her advance," he is simply asking if Tom Robinson tried to escape Mayella Ewell's romantic advances and attention.  In other words, Atticus wants to know if Robinson welcomed Mayella's hug and kiss, or if he discouraged such actions.  In return, Robinson states that he tried to resist Mayella's attempts.  When he says that he "tried to 'thout being' ugly to her," he means that he did not want to do anything that is considered unkind or less than nice in any way.  "Ugly" behavior would be mean or nasty in some way.  Tom Robinson is a gentle, considerate man and has no desire to harm anyone; Robinson feels sorry for Mayella and only wants to help her. 

We’ve answered 317,489 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question