How is Mayella Ewell symbolized as a mockingbird?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mayella Ewell is not symbolized by the mockingbird referred to in the title of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird.

According to the passage from which the title originates, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" because "mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy." In other words, you can't kill mockingbirds because they don't do anything to hurt anyone.

Mayella Ewell is hurting Tom Robinson with her accusation of rape. Therefore, she cannot be the mockingbird from the title. However, there are at least two other characters who do fit that description: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Tom, on trial for rape, has never hurt anyone as far as we know, yet he is being persecuted by the Ewells as they try to cover up their own shame. Boo Radley may have been a wild young man years before, but he no longer deserves to be bothered and slandered by the neighborhood children, who make him out to be some kind of subhuman monster until he saves their lives at the end of the story.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mayella Ewell is considered a symbolic mockingbird throughout the novel because she is defenseless, vulnerable, and in need of protection. Despite Mayella's apparent malevolent attitude during the trial, she grows up in an unstable home and is subjected to physical and sexual abuse from her alcoholic father. In Scout's opinion, Mayella is the loneliest person in the world because she has no friends and never has a chance to leave her family's shack.

Even though Mayella is just a teenager, she is forced to raise her numerous younger siblings by herself and take care of the household while her father is out getting drunk. Mayella's red geraniums indicate that she has a gentle spirit, which has been abused throughout the years. Mayella is defenseless against her father's strength and cannot stop him from abusing her. In this way, Mayella is portrayed as an unfortunate, vulnerable victim, which makes her a symbolic mockingbird. 

nahla999 | Student

She, too, is a kind of mockingbird, injured beyond repair by the forces of ugliness, poverty, and hatred that surround her. she is actually a good person that likes to keep clean and doesnt like acting like her father but she is abused and possibly molested by her father, while she has to deal with her unhelpful siblings. She has absolutely no friends and has been treated cruelly all her life.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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