What were the differences between Sheriff Tate as a witness and Bob Ewell?

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mrwickline eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sheriff Tate was the first witness to the stand. Sheriff Tate was a respected member of the community and listened intently to the questions asked by Mr. Gilmer and Atticus. Sheriff Tate recalls the events of that day and tells Atticus that Mayella was beat on the right side of her face, and her right eye was blackened. Obviously, Sheriff Tate tells his testimony from his own perspective, which differs greatly from the events described by Bob Ewell. Sheriff Tate’s testimony is rather uneventful. As a witness, Bob Ewell speaks with a thick Southern accent, and only begins answering questions in a straightforward way after he is warned by Judge Taylor. Judge Taylor says, “There will be no more audibly obscene speculations on any subject from anybody in this courtroom as long as I’m sitting here. Do you understand?” Bob Ewell’s testimony ignites the crowd after he stands up, points to Tom Robinson, and says, “I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!” Judge Taylor has to bang his gavel for five minutes in order to calm the crowd down. Mr. Ewell corroborates Sheriff Tate’s report that Mayella’s right eye was blackened, but accuses Atticus of being a tricky lawyer who is taking advantage of him. Mr. Ewell’s character is less professional than that of Mr. Tate on the witness stand, but Mr. Ewell’s testimony is far more colorful.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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