What made Tom visit the Ewell's house in the first place in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Tom was at the Ewell’s house because Mayella asked him over to help her do chores.

Tom Robinson is on trial for raping Mayella Ewell.  He was seen at her house, and she was attacked.  At her trial, the reason for his being at her house is revealed.  Mayella Ewell had a habit of asking Tom Robinson to come over to help her do chores.

During their testimony at the Tom’s trial, both Mayella and Tom confirm one another’s testimony that Mayella asked Tom to come over that day to break up a large piece of furniture called a chiffarobe for her.

“… I'd tip m'hat when I'd go by, and one day she asked me to come inside the fence and bust up a chiffarobe for her." (Ch. 19)

The testimony at the trial confirms that Mayella is lonely, and Tom was good-looking.  While Tom was married and loyal to his wife, Mayella still wanted to come up with excuses to get him to cover over.  On this particular occasion she also gave all of her younger brothers and sisters money for ice cream to get rid of them so she could be alone with Tom.

Mayella kissed Tom, and this was what her father saw.  He beat her up and Tom ran, and Mayella accused Tom of rape to cover up the fact that she instigated the whole thing.  She was just a lonely young woman who got in over her head and dragged Tom in with her.

Tom’s biggest mistake, as he admitted at the trial, was feeling sorry for Mayella.  The jury (and onlookers) were furious that he could feel sorry for a white woman.  By doing so, he was putting himself above her.  They could never tolerate that.  Unfortunately, Tom was just a nice guy and Mayella was lonely.  It changed their lives forever.

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wisegirl317's profile pic

wisegirl317 | eNotes Newbie

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Tom passed by Mayella Ewell's house everyday, going to and from Mr. Dea Links field, where he worked. there was no other way, that Tom knows of, that does not run into the Ewell's house. Everyday, Tom says, Mayella had something for him to do, like busting a chiffarobe and other chores. But on the night of November 21st, Mayella took it a step further than just 'doing a chore.' Instead, she asked Tom Robinson to come into her house, to 'help her with something'. Mayella, as we learn from the trial, is a lonely girl, with a drunk father, a dead mother, and a long line of younger kids that needed supervision that Robert Ewell barely ever gave. Mayella kissed Tom, and her father, upon seeing this, yells, at Mayella, " You goddamn whore, I'll kill ya." Her father beat her up (thats why she has all those bruises), and they frame Tom Robinson. 

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