Did Bob Ewell rape his own daughter, Mayella Ewell?

Expert Answers
mrerick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A difference of opinion will surround this question.  There are some that think Mayella may not be referring to anything more than the kisses most fathers give their daughters out of love, protection, etc.  However, in the context of the questioning at the trial and the timing of Mayella's answers, there's a chance that Bob may have engaged in some inappropriate actions with Mayella.  Did he rape her?  Nothing real concrete is evident to support that, but there might very well be something more than simple physical abuse occurring at the Ewell house.  If Bob had been involved in inappropriate behavior with his daughter, jealousy would have been another motive for him to legally attack Tom (and physically attack Mayella).  Like most great stories, you'll get to decide for yourself what you truly believe, but there is certainly many questions surrounding this family that don't get answered very clearly.

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There's no evidence to show that he did. Bob, looking through the window, saw Mayella grab Tom's legs and heard her ask him to kiss her. He called her a whore and threatened to kill her. Tom ran off, and Bob obviously beat her afterwards. Bob is such a racist bigot that he accused Tom of rape to hide what Mayella had done. Even as horrible as Bob Ewell is, he's white, and Tom has no chance against an all-white jury. This is the crux of the novel and explains how Tom is like a mockingbird. He felt sorry for Mayella and tried to help her. For that, he's found guilty, leading to his death. Chapters 18 and 19 contain both Mayella's and Tom's testimony at the trial. For more details, go to the link below.

tomaseire | Student

To be honest,Harper Lee leaves it to us.In the book there are alot of symbolism in the words they use,such as Atticus explaining never to kill a mocking bird,as they only offer music and mean no harm.The Mocking Bird represents Boo radely and Tom Robinson,both are harmless and only offer there services and have been punished for little more than being what society wont let them be,such as if Scout were to kill a mocking bird,although it sings,it is no reason to punish it.The whole notion Bob Ewell raped his daughter is a matter of opinion and can only be judged individualy.

bodinek | Student

I believe he did. For example, the kiss remark was purposely done by the author. Also, she says her mama has been done for a long time. She can't remember. Then where did all those little kids come from? He didn't rape her right after Tom left, but it seems he did engage in incest.

ktthefrog | Student

In my opinion, yes, Bob Ewell did rape Mayella. By her saying what my papa do don't count, implies that even if her father has not raped her, then he does at least sexually abuse her. However, the whole book contains themes that are ambiguous, like who are the mockingbirds, like Tom, Arthur (Boo); but are there others, like could you say Atticus is a mockingbird. Especially for essays, whatever the point you argue, that Bob did or not, then you just back up your reasoning with quotations.

smartymiss | Student

It is possible. One of my ffriend brought up the point that Bob Ewell wife had died when many years ago. But he has 9 children. The evidence from the court only increases suspicion in my mind that it was possible.

wheelecr | Student

Bob didn't rape his daughter.  When Tom was at Mayella's house, Mayella came on to him and tried to rape him.  Her father was looking threw the window and said"I'll beat you to death you whore!!!!!!"  (This is note the exact quote)I believe that Mayella just ment that she had never kissed a man that wasn't in her family and wasn't related to her, not in some sexual way.

anonymousss | Student

There is some evidence to suggest that Bob Ewell might have raped his daughter, mayella, the author gives context clues to this by saying \"ive never kissed a grown man before and my papa doesn\'t count\"
But the evidence can also lead to something more concrete (that bob ewell abused her) with his reputation for child abuse.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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