Cite evidence that Mayella was different from the other Ewells?

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mayella Ewell is the only person in her family who seems to take responsibility by taking care of the children. Her alcoholic father leaves Mayella in charge of the household, where she is forced to look after her siblings. Lee creates sympathy for Mayella by describing her isolated, difficult life. It is suggested that Mayella is sexually molested by her father, and the only person who is friendly towards her is Tom Robinson. Despite the ugly appearance of the Ewells' yard, Mayella cares for her red geraniums, which are planted along the fence. Mayella's red geraniums reveal her appreciation for beauty and her desire to live a better life. Unlike her father and brother, Mayella is portrayed as an innocent person in a terrible situation. She is not overtly rude like Burris, nor is she a violent alcoholic like her father. However, Lee reveals Mayella's true nature during the trial. Mayella lies on the witness stand and accuses an innocent man of assaulting and raping her. She gives under pressure and chooses to ruin someone else's life instead of facing the consequences of her own actions.

blacksheepunite eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unlike most of the Ewells who seem to live day to day, Mayella plans for the future. Her actions show her hope that she can experience moments of happiness, and glimpses of beauty in an environment that offers her hope for neither. She lives beside a garbage dump yet she plants flowers. She may be surrounded by squalor but she still tries to beautify her surroundings. She plans is able to hope for an event in the future and plan to make it happen. Another Ewell would never have saved money, and would not have spent it search of intimacy, yet Mayella does.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mayella seems to feel the isolation and loneliness of her racist family more than her father or siblings. She also is the only one who seems to care at all about the squalor that they live in.

It is Mayella who reaches out to Tom in desperation for a friend, it is she who gives small gifts. But unfortunately, her upbringing is too insidious for the young girl to overcome. Readers lose most sympathy for her when she blatantly lies on the stand, and lose it completely when her testimony, though proven false, convicts the innocent Tom Robinson.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question