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What was Heck Tate's Testimony in To Kill a Mockingbird chapter 17?

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jjwalsh99 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:34 AM via iOS

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What was Heck Tate's Testimony in To Kill a Mockingbird chapter 17?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Mr. Tate is called to testify about how he responded to Mayella’s injuries when Bob Ewell called him the night she was allegedly attacked.

Heck Tate is the sheriff.  He begins by describing how Bob Ewell, the victim’s father, called him.  He describes what Ewell did, what he did and what Mayella did and how she looked.  Mr. Gilmer, the prosecutor, calls him to testify first.

Mr. Tate said, "It was the night of November twenty-first. I was just leaving my office to go home when B- Mr. Ewell came in, very excited he was, and said get out to his house quick, some nigger'd raped his girl." (ch 17)

Tate was the first responder.  His description of the scene and Mayella’s injuries and behavior, and her father’s behavior, are very important.  He testifies to finding her laying on the floor beat up.  When he asked who hurt her, she said Tom Robinson did it.  He describes how he questioned her, and what she said.  Judge Taylor asks Atticus if he has questions.

Atticus asks Tate if he called for a doctor, and he says no.  Atticus asks where her injuries were, and where she was beat up on her face.  He asks which eye was injured.

Mr. Tate said, "Oh yes, that'd make it her right. It was her right eye, Mr. Finch. I remember now, she was bunged up on that side of her face...." (ch 17)

This is an important part of Atticus’s defense, because he is establishing what side of the face Mayella was injured on to prove that it was her father and not Tom Robinson.  Heck Tate is cooperative with Atticus and with Mr. Gilmer.

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