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What do you think Mayella would write in her diary? Considering Mayella's situation,...

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kateek7 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 24, 2012 at 3:53 AM via web

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What do you think Mayella would write in her diary?

Considering Mayella's situation, home life and relationship with her father, what do you think she would she write in her diary? What would her day to day life be like?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:37 AM (Answer #2)

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Not much since she is probably functionally illiterate.  Perhaps she can write on the low elementary level, so she would form simple thoughts such as how unhappy she is, how mean her Pa is, how 'tared' she is 'takin' care of the young'uns' and how she would like to break free and have a real life, living somewhere nice with pretty flowers and a garden.  Certainly, most of Mayella' s thoughts would be yearnings for she does not have as well as expressions of her terrible loneliness and lack of love.

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

Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:23 AM (Answer #3)

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If Mayella wrote honestly in her diary, I'm sure she would have mentioned the pleasure she took in maintaining her geraniums, one of the few pleasures she must have had in life. She would probably have complained about having to take care of her younger brothers and sisters with little help from her father, and she might have written truthfully about her plan to lure Tom Robinson into her house. Hopefully, she would have also written about the various beatings (and possibly sexual misconduct) she endured from her father.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:41 AM (Answer #4)

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I think it depends a lot on how honest she is willing to be with herself.  If she is honest, she might talk about how bad her father is to her and how much he (and she) resents their low status in the community.  For that last point, think about how she thinks Atticus is insulting her when he speaks politely to her.  Try to think about how you must be treated in order to end up feeling that way.  Put that in your diary entry.

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

Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:41 AM (Answer #5)

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Mayella would probably write about the aftermath of the trial and how she feels about what happened to Tom Robinson. It would be interesting to see if she would express regret for her lies or relief that jury "believed" her story and that she would be able to escape the continued wrath of her father in regards to what happened that fateful day.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:24 AM (Answer #6)

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If Mayella could write, it would be interesting to see her motivations for luring Tom Robinson into the house. Was she flattered by his kindness, and felt there was onlyone way she knew to 'repay' him? Was there a latent passion which she had been unable to express? Did she crave excitement, change or even just an acknowledgement of her existence as a person?

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

Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:34 AM (Answer #7)

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I think that Mayella is proud when it comes to others, but in her diary where she writes her deepest thoughts she may show her vulnerabilities.  She would talk about how lonely she is, how she fell for Tom, how the trial makes her nervous, and how she feels bad for betraying him.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:35 AM (Answer #8)

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I would also be curious about the diary entries Mayella would make about Tom Robinson and her father's oppressive nature. While I agree that Mayelle was/is probably illiterate, her diaries would certainly offer some more insight into her character.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:06 AM (Answer #9)

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We'll assume for the sake of the assignment that Mayella is not as illiterate as she is portrayed. I'm sure she was resentful of having to care for so many younger children. She might have wished for a better life. She had a lot of responsibilities for a young lady. She might have confessed her feelings about Tom Robinson. She might have written about her desire to fall in love and to be loved. Certainly, she would have written about some of the things her father did. It is very likely that she was afraid of him and his violent reactions. Perhaps, she would have considered ways to escape the violence and poverty of her home life.
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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:29 AM (Answer #10)

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Great posts, especially those mentioning the geraniums, the other children, and the father.

We learn during the trial that Mayella can read and write but has had only two or three years of schooling, so the writing in her diary would not be poiished at all. However, we may also see her as intelligent. As I understand her interactions with Atticus during the trial, she is not stupid or confused; she repeatedly asks for clarification of his questions because she knows that words count a lot in the courtroom, and she doesn't want to give away anything that would weaken her case or reveal the lies and the truths behind her account of what happened.

I think it's interesting to think about how the diary entries would look in addition to what those entries would say. The handwriting might look child-like, and the content might suggest more than it says directly. For example, there might very well be repeated references to Tom Robinson passing by the house, day after day -- some brief, some describing in detail an odd job that he does for her -- but no full description of her full plot to lure him in.

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