In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is the testimony of Heck Tate, Bob Ewell, Mayella Ewell, and Tom Robinson, and what is Atticus's summary?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Heck Tate testifies that he visited the Ewell house to find Mayella on the floor, the right side of her face badly beaten. Bob Ewell testifies that he heard Mayella's screams and ran inside to find Tom raping her. Mayella Ewell testifies that she offered Tom a nickel to break down a wardrobe for her. Atticus summarizes that, since Tom has an incapacitated left hand, the jury should blame Bob Ewell for this tragedy.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The key segment of Heck Tate's testimony comes during Atticus's cross-examination. In describing the injuries that he found on Mayella Ewell, he recalls that she was beaten on the right side of her face and that she had finger marks all the way around her throat.

Bob Ewell ...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

The key segment of Heck Tate's testimony comes during Atticus's cross-examination. In describing the injuries that he found on Mayella Ewell, he recalls that she was beaten on the right side of her face and that she had finger marks all the way around her throat.

Bob Ewell, a crude man who insults nearly everyone in the courtroom during his testimony, testifies that on the night in question, he heard Mayella screaming violently. He claims that he ran to the house and found Tom Robinson raping Mayella. He testifies that Tom ran out of the house before could be captured, and he also acknowledges that he didn't think Mayella should have been seen by a doctor for her injuries. He also demonstrates that he is left-handed, which means that he could have inflicted the injuries on Mayella himself.

Mayella Ewell proves skeptical of everyone in court, particularly Atticus. She finds his polite mannerisms insulting, as she has clearly never been treated with an iota of respect and cannot process his intentions. She testifies that she had invited Tom Robinson to "bust up [a] chiffarobe" for her and that he had run up behind her, grabbed her around the neck, and had begun beating her. When Atticus asks Mayella to point to the man who had committed these crimes against her, she points to Tom Robinson. Tom stands, and it is clear that his left hand, a shriveled appendage, could not have inflicted the injuries that Mayella claims.

Tom Robinson takes the stand and testifies that he had done odd jobs for Mayella on several occasions after she had asked him to do so; he realized that no one else would help her. On this day, she had invited him in and had then tried to kiss him. Tom had tried to escape, but Mayella blocked his path, and Tom didn't want to hurt her. Around this time, Bob Ewell had returned home and had threatened to kill Mayella. Tom ran.

In his closing arguments, Atticus reminds the jury of the promises guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence and that all men are created equal. He acknowledges that "all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe." But he insists that in the courts of the United States, people should be treated equally. He urges the men to do the right thing and release Tom to go home to his family based on the evidence they have heard.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Heck Tate is the first to testify and states that when he arrived on the scene, Mayella Ewell was severely beaten on the right side of her face. He also mentions that there were marks around Mayella's throat, which indicated that she had been choked.

Bob Ewell states that when he came home, he saw Tom Robinson "ruttin’ on my Mayella!" through the window. Bob Ewell then testifies that he immediately ran for Sheriff Tate instead of calling a doctor. Bob then testifies that he agrees with Sheriff Tate's testimony regarding the location and extent of Mayella's injuries. Atticus then makes him write his signature to prove that he is left-handed.

Mayella Ewell gives a conflicting testimony, which proves that she is lying. Mayella testifies that she asked Tom to bust up an old chiffarobe for a nickel, and he attacked her once he got inside the home. She states that Tom grabbed her neck from behind, threw her to the ground, and proceeded to rape her. She also mentions that she screamed for her life and remembers seeing her father and Sheriff Tate when she regained consciousness. During Atticus's cross-examination, Mayella gives a conflicting testimony regarding the sequence of events and the exact details of Tom's assault. She cannot recall him beating her in the face and says,

No, I don’t recollect if he hit me. I mean yes I do, he hit me . . . Huh? Yes, he hit—I just don’t remember, I just don’t remember . . . it all happened so quick.

After testifying that Tom was her attacker, Mayella continues to fabricate her story by saying that Tom's punches glanced across her face and she could not run away.

Tom Robinson testifies that Mayella asked him to help her put a door back on its hinges inside the house. He then testifies that there were no children in the home and when he stood on a step to retrieve a box on top of a chiffarobe, Mayella hugged him around his legs and kissed him. Tom then saw and heard Bob Ewell outside and ran out of the house as fast as he could.

Atticus sums up the case by commenting on the lack of medical evidence, reminding the jury to consider Mayella and Bob's conflicting testimonies, and mentioning Bob Ewell's motivation to beat his daughter. Atticus then encourages the jury to look past their prejudice and judge the case fairly.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

HECK TATE. Heck testifies that after being contacted by Bob Ewell, he visits the Ewell house to find a beaten Mayella on the floor. He says that he found the right side of her face badly beaten and bruises around her neck, and that no doctor had been called to examine her.

BOB EWELL. Bob claims to have heard Mayella screaming from within the Ewell house, and when he came inside, he saw "that black nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella!" Tom ran away after seeing Bob. Although Bob is never very specific, he claims that Tom raped and beat his daughter. During Atticus' cross examination, however, Bob complied with the request to write his name, which he did—with his left hand.

MAYELLA EWELL. Mayella claims that she offered Tom a nickel to
" 'bust up this chiffarobe,' " and when he came inside,

" 'fore I knew it he was on me. Just run up behind me, he did. He got me round the neck, cussin' me and sayin' dirt... He hit me agin an; agin."

During Atticus' cross examination, however, her story became less specific, and she recanted her earlier statement.

"No, I don't recollect if he hit me. I mean yes I do, he hit me... Yes, he hit--I just don't remember, I just don't remember... it all happened so quick."

She never describes the rape, only that Tom "done what he was after." She also nods when Atticus suggests that her father is not so "tollable... when he's drinking."

TOM ROBINSON. Tom, who has a crippled left arm, denies ever touching Mayella. He claims that he came inside the Ewell's house at Mayella's request, to fix a door and get a box off the top of the chiffarobe, and she suddenly kissed him and grabbed him around the waist while he stood on a chair. He immediately ran from the house out of fear, and as he did, Bob Ewell appeared at the window. "You goddam whore, I'll kill ya," Bob yelled at Mayella. Tom denied ever raping or harming Mayella in any way.

JUDGE TAYLOR. The judge had little to say, other than keeping order in the courtroom on several occasions. He made no summation or statement to the jury that was recorded by Scout (as narrator).

ATTICUS FINCH'S SUMMARY. Atticus's heartfelt summation requests the jury to overlook Tom's color and consider that Bob may have initiated Mayella's beating. He asks the jury to do its duty and, " ' In the name of God, believe him (Tom). ' "

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 17, Heck Tate takes the witness stand and testifies that he was summoned by Bob Ewell to race to his house on the evening of November 21. When Heck Tate arrived at the Ewell residence, he found Mayella lying on the floor, and she appeared to have be beaten. Mayella informed Heck Tate that Tom Robinson attacked and raped her. Heck Tate brought Tom back to the house, and Mayella identified him. During Atticus's cross-examination, Heck Tate describes Mayella's injuries as being located predominantly on the right side of her face with finger marks encircling her neck, which suggests that a left-handed person beat her.

Bob Ewell testifies that when he returned home from the woods, Mayella was screaming. When he looked in the window, Bob saw Tom Robinson raping her. Bob Ewell then states that he saw Tom run out of the house, and he immediately ran to get Sheriff Tate. Mayella testifies that she asked Tom Robinson to bust up an old chiffarobe, and he followed her inside the house when she went to grab a nickel. Inside the home, Tom grabbed her around the neck, flung her to the ground, and began to beat her. Mayella then testifies that Tom choked and raped her while she screamed as loud as she could. Mayella then passed out and woke up to Sheriff Tate and her father standing over her. During Atticus's cross-examination, Mayella offers a conflicting testimony and cannot remember the specifics of Tom's attack. Her testimony is clearly fabricated, and Mayella refuses to answer a series of relevant questions.

In chapter 19, Tom Robinson takes the witness stand and testifies that Mayella Ewell asked him to help put a door back on the hinges. Tom was familiar with Mayella and he decided to follow her inside the house. Mayella then asked Tom to get a box down from the top of a chiffarobe and she proceeded to grab him around the legs. Tom immediately hopped down from the chair and Mayella hugged him around the waist before kissing him on the side of his face. Tom responded by pushing her out of the way and heard Bob Ewell threaten to kill her from outside the window. Tom managed to run away but was later arrested by Sheriff Tate after Mayella accused him of raping her.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on