What are Mayella's injuries in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Mayella Ewell's injuries are certainly consistent with someone who's been badly beaten. As Sheriff Tate explains when he takes the witness stand, Mayella's right eye and the entire right side of her face were badly bruised, indicating that she'd sustained quite a beating. Not only that, but there were scratches...

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Mayella Ewell's injuries are certainly consistent with someone who's been badly beaten. As Sheriff Tate explains when he takes the witness stand, Mayella's right eye and the entire right side of her face were badly bruised, indicating that she'd sustained quite a beating. Not only that, but there were scratches all over Mayella's neck as well as additional bruising there, indicating an attempt at strangulation. The evidence was pretty compelling: someone had clearly attacked Mayella, just like she said.

But what the evidence did not show was that it was Tom Robinson who carried out the attack. In fact, due to Tom's disability—his left arm is useless after a boyhood accident—there's simply no way he could've attacked Mayella; it was physically impossible. The forensic evidence may be clear, but it still has to be interpreted in the right way; those cuts, abrasions, and bruises still need to be attributed to the right perpetrator. Unfortunately, that's precisely what the members of the jury do not do. They allow their racial prejudice to get the better of them and so they convict Tom Robinson of a crime which he did not commit and could not have committed.

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Throughout Chapter 17, Sheriff Tate gives a description of Mayella’s injuries when he is on the witness stand during the Tom Robinson case. After solicitor Gilmer asks Tate to recall his story, Sheriff Tate begins to describe how Mayella looked pretty beat up. He said that Mayella had been beaten around the head and there were bruises starting to form on her arms. (17.224) Tate also mentions that she had a black eye. After Atticus questions Sheriff Tate in regards to which eye was bruised, he confirms that it was her right eye. In addition to her black eye, Mayella  also suffered marks to the right side of her face and neck. When Mayella showed Sheriff Tate her neck, he identified finger marks around her gullet. Tate says that the bruises on her neck went the whole way around.

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