Mayella Ewell accuses Tom Robinson of having beaten and raped her.  The evidence of this beating was her blackened right eye from the post-rape medical exam. However, Atticus Finch, Tom's lawyer,...

Mayella Ewell accuses Tom Robinson of having beaten and raped her.  The evidence of this beating was her blackened right eye from the post-rape medical exam. However, Atticus Finch, Tom's lawyer, proves that Tom could not have been the one who bruised her right eye because an injury like that would require a left-handed fist.  Since Tom's left hand was injured when he was much younger, and he is now unable to use that hand, he is thus especially unable to make a fist to hit someone with it.

Where in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird is the above-mentioned information mentioned?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The testimonies of Sheriff Heck Tate, Bob and Mayella Ewell, and others begins in Chapter 17 and ends in Chapter 19 with Tom Robinson's testimony; in Chapter 18 the audience in the courtroom sees Tom as he stands; his left arm is withered and useless. 

In Chapter 17 Sheriff Tate speaks of Mayella's injuries and admits that he did not call in a doctor. He also testifies to Mayella's blackened right eye; further in this same chapter (17), when Atticus interrogates Bob Ewell, he establishes that Ewell is left-handed. (Ewell also admits that he did not send for a doctor, so there was no medical exam as suggested in the question above.) In Chapter 18, when Atticus asks Mayella to identify the man who assaulted her, he has Tom stand up. When he does so, everyone in the courtroom is able to see that Tom's left arm is withered and useless, so he could not have used this arm to punch Mayella because the bruises on Mayella are apparent as having been made by someone striking her with the left hand. Scout narrates,

His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right, and hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shriveled hand, and from as far away as the balcony I could see that it was no use to him. (p.188 of paperback Warner Books edition)

It becomes obvious, then, that both Bob and Mayella Ewell have falsified their testimonies as the information which Atticus Finch has obtained from these witnesses in Chapters 17 and 18 indicates.

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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