How would you describe Mayella and her home life?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Living in her rundown house situated between the town dump and the Negro Quarters, Mayella is cast as a lonely and mistreated older teen who has reached adulthood but has no one with which to share her life. Her mother has been dead a "long time," and she seems befuddled when Atticus asks her while on the witness stand if she has any friends. Her loneliness is so great that she has saved her nickels so she can send her brothers and sisters out of the house in order to be alone in order to lure Tom Robinson inside. She has never been kissed, and though Tom is black, he is her best chance for a quick bit of romance. To Mayella, Tom is like forbidden fruit, but her choices are limited, and he is one of the only people who ventures onto the property. We also discover that her father has probably beaten her before, and there is even an underlying hint that he may have taken advantage of her sexually in the past.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mayella is a 19 year-old lonely girl who wants nothing more than a friend. I would assume that she is either neglected or abused because she seems to have a fear of her father. She assumes the role of a mother to the children with whom she lives although she is just a sibling to them. She excuses her father's behaviors as "tollable" (tolerable), and doesn't desire any greater education. She maintains a set of red geraniums. These stand out as the one item she has control over. It demonstrates a woman maybe desiring to come out of the impoverished lifestyle she leads. But, she realizes she can't.

Mayella is rather childish, probably because she has never had appropriate adult modeling. She misunderstands courtesy for mockery.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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