In chapter 19 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what does her realization about Mayella tell us about Scout?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 19 is actually where Tom Robinson gives his account of what happened with Mayella Ewell on the day of the alleged rape. Scout and the audience learn that Tom was asked by Mayella to enter the Ewell premises multiple times to do odd jobs for her. Tom says that he was willing to help Mayella with some things because he felt that her father didn't help her enough with chores or with the children. Tom was also sensitive to Mayella's financial situation and offered to help her free of charge. It is at this point that Scout makes the following realization:

"As Tom Robinson gave his testimony, it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years" (191-192).

Scout is learning about Mayella, so she naturally applies this knowledge to what she knows in her own life about loneliness and thinks of Boo Radley. Along with the fact that Scout realizes Mayella is lonely, she also discovers that the poor girl doesn't have any friends. These realizations show that Scout is observant and developing a sense of empathy towards other people. Furthermore, Scout starts to think that maybe some people don't seem to fit anywhere in society; and, possibly Mayella and Boo Radley are just those types of misfits. She realizes these thoughts with an air of compassion, and an ounce of amazement, as she discovers the world through different eyes. Scout is growing and developing a heart of a woman.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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