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Tom helps Mayella because he feels sorry for her. This was his downfall, for a black man to feel sorry for a white woman. In that era, racism upheld that prohibition. This statement by Tom is probably what got him convicted. The Ewell household looked like a pigsty. That is, except for the red flowers Mayella had so lovingly planted. Despite the multitude of Ewell children, Mayella was the only one who seemed to do any work. She kept herself clean in spite of the grinding poverty and the location of the house, next to the dump. Mayella was a hard worker who did the chores her brothers should. Every day when Tom walked by to his job, she would speak to him as a civilized person would. For all these reasons, Tom felt sorry for her and agreed to help her "bust up a chiffarobe" for fire wood. His kindness cost him his life.
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