What is Bob Ewell's testimony in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird? 

What is Bob Ewell's testimony in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?


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Bob Ewell testified that he saw Tom Robinson with his daughter Mayella.

Bob Ewell’s testimony is colorful and fanciful.  He tries to convince the jury that Tom Robinson raped Mayella.  However, he admits that no one went to get a doctor for her.  Atticus tries to establish that Mayella was never attacked at all by having Ewell demonstrate that he is left handed.

“Well, Mayella was raisin‘ this holy racket so I dropped m’load and run as fast as I could but I run into th’ fence, but when I got distangled I run up to th‘ window and I seen—” Mr. Ewell’s face grew scarlet. He stood up and pointed his finger at Tom Robinson. “—I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!” (Ch. 17) 

Mr. Gilmer tries to show that Mr. Ewell saw Tom Robinson attack Mayella.  However, when Atticus questions him on cross-examination, he asks Bob Ewell if he went for a doctor.  Ewell says he never thought to. 

“Didn’t you think she should have had a doctor, immediately?”

The witness said he never thought of it, he had never called a doctor to any of his’n in his life, and if he had it would have cost him five dollars. “That all?” he asked. (Ch. 17) 

Atticus also has Mr. Ewell describe her injuries and point out that they were on the left side of her face.  He has Mr. Ewell write his name so that the jury can see that he is left-handed.  He is trying to show that Mayella’s injuries were caused by her father. Later, he will demonstrate that Tom Robinson has no use of his left arm.

Atticus hopes that people will understand that Bob Ewell was lying when he said that he saw the rape, because Mayella did have injuries, but not caused by Tom Robinson.  No one got her a doctor.  If she really had been raped, wouldn't a doctor have been called?

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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