I am a defendant lawyer in a mock trial about To Kill a Mockingbird, trying to come up with an opening statement for Mayella Ewell on how she is not responsible for the death of Tom Robinson. Where should I start?
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I'm assuming by your question that this is a separate trial in which Mayella is being charged for the death of Tom Robinson and not the case covered in the original text.
First off, Mayella's opening statement should be one that tries to sway that jury that she is not culpable in Tom Robinson's death, despite the fact that she wrongly accused him of raping her. To make this effective, you should try to rely on pathos, or evoking pity. I would imagine that if Mayella were to finally admit that Tom did not rape her, she would focus on how desperate she felt prior to accusing him. She would bring up that she was leading a life of extreme poverty in which she was responsible for all of her younger siblings. She didn't attend school and had no friends, so she was very lonely. She'd probably also mention how she saw Tom frequently and had developed a crush on him. During the incident where she kisses him and her father walks in on it, Mayella could claim that she was so terrified of her father's wrath and abuse that she felt forced to claim that Tom had raped her to avoid further torment. Finally, even though Mayella is the reason Tom was in prison, she should definitely claim that she was not the one to shoot him. She was not even around when that event occurred, so how could she be responsible for a prison guard's actions? Good luck!
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