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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson had to take the stand. He had to explain what happened on November twenty-first. Although Tom Robinson was innocent of harming Mayella in any way, he made himself look bad when he exclaimed that he felt sorry for Mayella. In the 1930s, in Maycombe, black men could not have any associations with a white woman. The fact that Tom Robinson admitted that he helped Mayella from time to time caused the jury to be suspicious of Tom's willingness to help a white woman.
During his testimony, Tom Robinson made it clear that he only helped Mayella because she seemed to have no one else to help her. The fact that Tom felt sorry for a white woman was more than the town of Maycombe wanted to hear. Black men had no rights. They were considered lesser people because they were black.
During his testimony, Tom Robinson told an all white jury that Mayella made advances toward him. This is hard for white people to hear. Although Tom Robinson was telling the truth, the all white jury did not want to believe him.
Tom Robinson described how Mayella tried to hug him and kiss him:
The witness swallowed hard. "She reached up an' kissed me 'side of th' face. She says she never kissed a grown man before an' she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don't count. She says, 'Kiss me back, nigger.' I say Miss Mayella lemme outa here an' tried to run but she got her back to the door an' I’da had to push her. I didn't wanta harm her, Mr. Finch, an' I say lemme pass, but just when I say it Mr. Ewell yonder hollered through th' window."
Clearly, Tom is trying to tell the truth. Sadly enough, he lived in a time when the truth did not count if it was coming from a black man. Tom's testimony is honest and sincere. Still, he was found guilty of raping Mayella, a crime he did not commit.
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