In chapter 18 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout recounts the portion of Tom Robinson’s trial when Mayella Ewell appeared on the witness stand. The prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, questions her about the events of the day that Robinson allegedly beat and raped her. While Mayella provides information about the incident, she also reveals her emotional state. Gilmer’s first question is about her location that evening. She states that she was on the porch. Mayella’s discomfort in testifying is evident from her terse responses and emotional reactions. Gilmer says that if she tells the truth, she has nothing to fear. In response to his asking what she is afraid of, she points to Atticus and says she is worried that he will “do her” or cross-examine harshly as he did her father.
Gilmer then asks her age. This reply is factual: nineteen and a half years old. As Gilmer encourages her to testify accurately, Scout and Jem whisper about whether Mayella has “good sense” about telling the truth.
Mayella admits that she invited Robinson into the house. Four specific elements that Mayella provides about the attack are that he came up behind her, grabbed her by the neck from behind, hit her repeatedly, then threw her down and raped her. She uses a euphemism for the sexual assault: he “took advantage of me.”
As Gilmer presses her on the last point, she confirms it. “He done what he was after.”