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

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In chapter 17, both Sheriff Tate and Bob Ewell take the witness stand. During Sheriff Tate's testimony, he behaves respectfully and answers both Mr. Gilmer and Atticus 's questions to the best of his ability. Even though Sheriff Tate initially confuses which side of Mayella's face was bruised, he...

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In chapter 17, both Sheriff Tate and Bob Ewell take the witness stand. During Sheriff Tate's testimony, he behaves respectfully and answers both Mr. Gilmer and Atticus's questions to the best of his ability. Even though Sheriff Tate initially confuses which side of Mayella's face was bruised, he certainly has nothing to hide and offers an honest testimony by telling the truth. Sheriff Tate testifies that when he arrived at Bob Ewell's home, Mayella was lying on the ground and was beaten badly. However, he did not call a doctor and recalls that most of the bruises were to the right side of Mayella's face.

In contrast, Bob Ewell is portrayed as a hostile witness, who is disrespectful and is warned by Judge Taylor several times about his informal, offensive responses. Judge Taylor has to immediately address Bob Ewell's "obscene speculations" at the beginning of his testimony and is forced to hammer his gavel after Bob Ewell says,

"I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!" (Lee, 175).

When Atticus begins his cross-examination, Scout notices that Bob regards him with "haughty suspicion" and is reluctant to answer any of his questions. Atticus does not ask Bob any difficult questions, and Bob testifies that he agrees with Sheriff Tate's description of Mayella's injuries. However, Atticus makes Bob Ewell sign his signature and determines that Bob is left-handed. Bob Ewell then curses at Atticus by calling him a tricky lawyer and raises his voice before he is done testifying. Overall, Sheriff Tate is depicted as respectful, honest, and compliant, while Bob Ewell is portrayed as hostile, offensive, and deceitful.

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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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