What is the plot linkage in Chapter 18 of "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major themes of the novel is the differences in both class and race that exist in Maycomb and the rest of the South. Chapter 18 focuses on Mayella's testimony. This is a focal point in the novel because she is the reason Atticus is defending Tom in the first place and the reason the Finch children have experienced both mocking and ostracism by some of their friends and neighbors. During her testimony, it is obvious that Mayella is poorly educated and does not really fit into the polite society of Maycomb. She struggles to keep her story straight and by the end of it, the audience can see that she is probably lying. But her last words point out a painful truth about the South. She says, "“That nigger yonder took advantage of me an’ if you fine fancy gentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ about it then you’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, the lot of you.” The men in the jury box probably do not believe her either, but they cannot let the town see them as "cowardly" and allow Tom, a black man. to go free. This reinforces the idea that even though Mayella and her family are separated from the rest of the town because of their economic circumstances, they are white and, therefore, considered superior to the Black community.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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