The people of Maycomb expect Tom to act very differently on the witness stand. Tom is calm and gentle. His is not at all the agitated and violent man they expected to see. The greatest irony is that Tom says he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell. The townspeople are shocked and not at all happy with this statement. The truth is that Tom has a loving family and he is fairly happy in his life. Mayella is stuck with raising her brothers and sisters in a dilapidated and impoverished house. Tom pities her and that is why he tries to help her. The racists townspeople do not want to believe that a black man would have any cause to pity a white woman. They would like to believe that a black man cannot be as happy and certainly not happier than a white family. Even though the townspeople look down on the Ewell's, they look down on Tom Robinson far more. It is ironic that Tom would show pity to the woman who is falsely accusing him of a crime. He knows he will likely be convicted even though he is innocent and yet he still pities Mayella.