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In "To Kill a Mockingbird", how does Mayella respond when Atticus ask her if...

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jaquonm7 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 25, 2008 at 8:22 AM via web

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird", how does Mayella respond when Atticus ask her if she loves her father?

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katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 25, 2008 at 9:02 AM (Answer #2)

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Mayella is evasive about the question. She that he "does tolerable," but will never admit that she loves him.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 25, 2008 at 10:28 AM (Answer #3)

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Mayella does evade the question, suggesting that her father does "tollable" if he isn't drinking. Mayella is considered the "woman" of the house in that she must take care of the other children, clean, and cook. She hasn't had a childhood of her own, and there's no doubt that Bob beats her when he's drinking. We don't know what other horrors she must endure at her father's hand. There's no way that Mayella loves her father, but at this point, she has no one else to turn to and nowhere else to go. Mayella reached out to Tom because she's lonely and needs someone to care about her. The Ewell family, even though they are poor and trashy, are white, however, and this puts them a notch above Tom Robinson as a decent, black man. Atticus is sickened at this injustice and prejudice, and he knows from the start that he probably won't win the trial. He desperately tries to get Mayella to do the right thing and tell the truth, but her fear of her father is too great. He would definitely beat her if she told the truth, and she knows this.

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