What information does Sheriff Tate give on the witness stand?

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mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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In Chapter 17, the first witness called to the stand is Sheriff Tate. When Mr. Gilmer, the solicitor, asks him to state the events “in his own words,” Sheriff Tate says that he was “fetched” by Mr. Bob Ewell when he was leaving his office on the night of November 21st. Mr. Ewell was very excited and said that “some nigger’d raped his girl.” (17.223) When Sheriff Tate arrived, he found Mayella lying in the middle of the front room. After helping Mayella to her feet and cleaning her face in a bucket, Tate was told by Mayella that Tom Robinson was the perpetrator. Tate asked Mayella if Tom beat her and took advantage of her. After Mayella confirmed and identified Tom Robinson, Sheriff Tate arrested him.  Atticus asks Sheriff Tate if he called the doctor, but Tate says he did not because it wasn’t necessary. Sheriff Tate then is asked to describe Mayella’s injuries. Tate says that she was beaten around the head and had bruises coming in on her arms. (17.224) When Sheriff Tate mentions that Mayella had a “black eye comin’,” Atticus asks him which eye he is referring to. Sheriff Tate initially tells Atticus that it was her left eye that was bruised, but then recalls that is was actually her right eye. Tate continues to describe Mayella’s other injuries, which include bruised arms and finger marks around her neck.

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