What characters or sections can I use to craft a thematic statement and write paragraph on isolation, and good-and-evil in chapters 19-23 of To Kill a Mockingbird?  

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This section of the novel covers the last stages of the trial through the various discussions held in Scout's prescence regarding the verdict.

Tom Robinson gives his testimony, Atticus gives his closing arguments, and Tom is soon after found guilty by the jury. Conversations about this verdict relate to ideas of injustice, "baby steps" of progress and the nature of the society that Jem and Scout realize they are living in. 

Isolation and good-and-evil are both thematically present in this section. Isolation, in particular, is examined in relation to Mayella Ewell's home situation and Boo Radley's choice to remain a recluse. 

It is here that Jem feels he can begin to understand Radley's decision. In Jem's disappointment with the verdict of the trial, he loses his respect, admiration and idealization of the people of Maycomb, becoming somewhat bitter as a result. 

“I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up . . . it’s because he wants to stay inside.”

Mayella Ewell is equally isolated when compared to Boo Radley. In the exploration Tom Robinson's testimony in the novel, a connection is suggested between the two. 

There is only one reference to Boo Radley and the motif of ghosts and superstitions: a comparison is made between the loneliness of Mayella and that of Arthur.

Mayella is considered too low to mix with by most people in town and she is made to care for her many siblings without any help from her father. This is why Tom Robinson agrees to help her, refusing payment.

Tom mentions that he feels sorry for her and Scout also makes reference to the fact that Mayella is a member of the lower class and has few friends.

In addition to Mrs. Dubose, the characters of Boo Radley and Mayella Ewell are the best examples of people who are isolated and, as a result, misunderstood and judged harshly for it.

The theme of good-and-evil is demonstrated through the trial. Tom's guilt is not in question. He is clearly innocent, yet his pity for a "white woman" is seen as enough to justify a guilty verdict. Also, Mayella and Bob Ewell are exposed as being weak people, lashing out at others, casting false blame, and acting out of a deep bitterness. 

The contrasts between Tom Robinson and both Ewells is quite clear and offers a good deal of material for use in a paper on the subject of good-and-evil in this section of the novel. 

maddym17 | Student


Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question