What facts and testimonies do not support Tom Robinson's case?

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misstemple1261 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While several testimonies easily do not support Tom Robinson’s case, it’s harder to find facts that contradict his version of events, especially given that To Kill A Mockingbird’s theme, purpose, and message rely on Tom Robinson’s innocence. The testimonies that incriminate Tom are woefully inaccurate, as well as motivated by prejudice, self-interest, and spite.

For example, Mayella testifies against Tom. In her version of events, she asked Tom to dismantle a chiffarobe (a piece of wooden furniture) in exchange for a nickel. According to Mayella, once Tom was inside the Ewells' home, he brutally attacked and raped her. Her father saw the end of the rape, and Tom fled. This testimony is absolutely not airtight, however! Atticus points out that Tom could not have overpowered Mayella since he does not have any use of his left hand due to an accident in his youth. Mayella’s injuries were concentrated on the right side of her body, indicating that she was beaten by a left-handed person. Her father writes with his left hand, thus pointing to him as a potential suspect. Given that Mayella’s story relies on an impossibility, we are more likely to believe Tom’s side, especially since  it does not rest on an obvious distortion of the truth. In Tom’s version, he came inside the house to bust up the chiffarobe, and Mayella inappropriately touched and tried to kiss him without his consent. Bob Ewell saw this, and while Tom fled because he knew that the law would punish him in spite of his victim status, Bob savagely attacked Mayella.

Bob also testifies against Tom. He says that he saw Tom raping Mayella. Bob, however, only has his eyewitness testimony to support his claim. Bob did not call for a doctor after the rape, so no one else can confirm his assertion. 

The only fact that might possibly not support Tom Robinson’s case is that he has previously been in trouble for fighting. In this case, however, it appears that he was defending himself against a much stronger opponent and that both of them were punished. The Ewells’ lawyer tries to persuade the jury that this previous incident means that Tom’s personality is malicious, therefore proving that he raped Mayella. This is a stretch of logic that presumes too much from a simple fact. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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