How do Mayella and her father's testimonies contradict one another?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Atticus Finch's vigorous defense of Tom Robinson during the rape trial of To Kill a Mockingbird brought out the questionable testimony of both Bob Ewell and his daughter, Mayella, the supposed victim of the attack. Bob claims to have witnessed Tom "ruttin' on my Mayella." When asked by the prosecutor if he meant having sexual intercourse, Bob answered "Yes, I did." However, when Atticus questions Mayella, she does not mention the sex act.

Bob also claims to agree with Sheriff Tate's testimony, that Mayella had bruises and that "her eye was blacked and she was mighty beat up." But when Atticus asks Mayella about the beating, she tells him that "I don't recollect if he hit me." She immediately changes her mind, claiming that "I mean, yes I do, he hit me." Again she changes her mind, recalling that "I just don't remember... it all happened so quick."

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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During Mayella's testimony in the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" she states that she was outside and had asked Tom Robinson if he wanted to earn a nickel.  She had told him to come inside to bust up a set of drawers.  Tom came in and grabbed her neck and started choking her saying things to her.  She had started screaming.  Tom had come up from behind her.

Mayella had not mentioned anything about Tom beating her around her face.  She had mentioned the chocking.  She can not recall if Tom had hit her or not she says.

The statement that Mr. Ewell had made before Mayella was that he had seen Tom having sex with Mayella.  She had not brought up the sex part at first and only stated that Tom had a lid on top of her after throwing her on the ground.

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