How is Mayella Ewell a victim of her society, and how is she a victim of her family in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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As Scout mentions early in the novel, "Atticus said the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations." Sadly, Mayella had little to do with this assessment, but she was forced to live with the shame of her family name. Few people in Maycomb would have anything to do with the family, and the Ewells live in near isolation--between the city dump and the African-American neighborhood. Because of her mother's absence, Mayella was forced to look after the younger Ewell children, since Bob was usually out drinking up his government check. Mayella apparently had no friends, and her loneliness so overwhelmed her that she sought out the company of a married black man to comfort her. After her appearance on the witness stand, and after Tom's conviction, the townspeople probably scorned the family more than ever. No doubt Mayella received some sympathy from a few of the townspeople, but she probably had no more visitors than before. She is a victim of both society and her own family.

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