In "To Kill a Mockingbird", what does the presence of a few pots of geraniums at the Ewell place suggest about Mayella?

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katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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When Scout is describing the Ewell house, after mentioning the dirt and trash, she says there are red geraniums in pots outside the house that look so beautiful and cared for, it was as if Miss Maudie (a superb gardener) had been looking after them. Scout assumes that these geraniums belong to Mayella. This image complements the one Scout describes when she describes Mayella's appearance--that it looked as though Mayella tried to keep clean on a regular basis, as opposed to the rest of the Ewells who took baths once a year.

These two images combined give the reader (and Scout) the sense that Mayella wants to be better than she is--"just a Ewell"--but it's difficult when everyone in the town only associates her with her last name. This leads Scout to the conclusion that Mayella must be the most lonely person in the world--even lonelier than Boo Radley--because white folks didn't want anything to do with the Ewells because the Ewells are trash, and black folks didn't want to have anything to do with the Ewells because the Ewells were white. So, no matter how hard Mayella tries, she won't be able to rise beyond her last name.

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