In Chapter 17, Mr. Gilmer questions Bob Ewell about the incident that took place on the evening of November 21st. Bob begins by testifying that he had just come home from collecting firewood when he heard his daughter, Mayella, screaming like a "stuck hog." Upon hearing his daughter's screams, he dropped the load of firewood to run inside the house. However, Bob ran into the fence but was still able to see inside the window. Bob claims that he saw Tom Robinson raping Mayella. Bob then says he ran around the house to get in, but Tom Robinson escaped through the front door. Bob mentions that he was too distracted by Mayella to chase after Tom but instead ran straight for Sheriff Tate. Despite the fact that Mayella was beaten badly, Bob never thought to call a doctor and claims that her injuries were predominately to the right side of her face.
Mr. Gilmer starts first with his questions. Bob Ewell gives his version of the story regarding the assault on Mayella. Bob claims that on November 21st, he was carrying firewood back to the house when he heard Mayella screaming. He adds that he dropped the wood and arrived to find Tom Robinson "ruttin'" (sexually assaulting) Mayella. Bob then claims he ran around the house only to see Tom run out of the front door ahead of him. He then ran to get Heck Tate, the sheriff.
When Atticus questions him, he asks if he agrees with Heck Tate's testimony. Bob Ewell says that he does. This is where Atticus begins to expose Bob Ewell's lies. Heck Tate said that it was Mayella's right eye which was injured. Therefore, it would be more likely that a left-handed man attacked her. Bob Ewell is left-handed and Tom Robinson's left hand is virtually useless due to an accident with a cotton gin. Jem recognizes (and Scout begins to catch on) that Atticus is trying to show how it was more likely that Bob Ewell was the attacker.
Jem seemed to be having a quiet fit. He was pounding the balcony rail softly, and once he whispered, “We’ve got him.”
I didn’t think so: Atticus was trying to show, it seemed to me, that Mr. Ewell could have beaten up Mayella. That much I could follow.