What does Mayella think of Atticus in the book To Kill A Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the highlights of the novel is the cross examination by attorney Atticus Finch of Mayella Ewell, who has accused the young black man Tom Robinson of raping her. Atticus begins his questions in an almost gentle, condescending manner before later questioning the honesty and intentions of Mayella. But Mayella finally breaks, and in one short, fiery response, she fires back at Atticus before refusing to answer any more questions:

"...if you fine fancy gentlemen don't wanta do nothin' about it then you're all yellow stinkin' cowards, stinkin' cowards, the lot of you. You're fancy airs don't come to nothin'--your ma'amin' and Miss Mayellerin' don't come to nothin', Mr. Finch."

Because the Ewells are a family of outcasts in Maycomb, Mayella realizes that she will get little special treatment from the townspeople, even though she is white and Tom is black. To her, the honest-to-a-fault Atticus is just another man who looks down his nose at the Ewells.

fredc20 | Student

Mayella does not think very highly of Mr. Finch. Her illiterate mind does not allow her to think past her Prejudice upbringing. She has been brought up to think that she is better than black people and to see a white-man defend someone who is charged with a crime against a white person guilty or not leaves her to believe that this white-man has become an enemy to her race. Mr. Finch is not seen as a upper class citizen in Mayella's eyes, rather he represents a member of the Jim Crow culture and thereby, his alliance is to members of his race. He has betrayed this rule and now in her eyes he is no better than the black man accused of the crime.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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