Mayella Ewell Quotes

What quotes in To Kill A Mockingbird describe Mayella Ewell's personality and hardships she faces?

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In chapter 18 of To Kill a Mockingbird , Mayella Ewell takes the stand to accuse Tom Robinson of rape. She is the daughter of Bob Ewell, a man disliked by most in his community. The Ewell family lives behind a garbage dump in filthy conditions, they depend on the...

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In chapter 18 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Mayella Ewell takes the stand to accuse Tom Robinson of rape. She is the daughter of Bob Ewell, a man disliked by most in his community. The Ewell family lives behind a garbage dump in filthy conditions, they depend on the county for money, and their children do not regularly attend school. Scout shares that although the yard is dirty and littered with junk, one particular spot contains jars of beautiful red geraniums. The flowers are believed to belong to Mayella.

During her time on the stand, insights are given into Mayella's life through some of her quotes. For example, it becomes clear that Mayella has not been accustomed to manners. When Atticus calls her "Miss Mayella" or "ma'am," she thinks Atticus is mocking her. She says, "Long’s he keeps on callin‘ me ma’am an sayin’ Miss Mayella. I don’t hafta take his sass."

When Atticus asks Mayella how many years she attended school, she responds, "Two year—three year—dunno." This shows her lack of education. In addition, Mayella, who is nineteen years old, does not seem to know about friendship. As Atticus attempts to question her regarding whether or not she has any friends, she responds, "You makin‘ fun o’me agin, Mr. Finch?"

The reader becomes aware of the sadness and loneliness of Mayella's life as Atticus continues to ask questions. At one point, when she is asked if she loves her father and if he's easy to live with, she replies, "He does tollable, ‘cept when—." As Atticus later shows in his closing arguments, it is Bob Ewell and not Tom Robinson that is responsible for Mayella's injuries.

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Mayella Ewell is the daughter of a notorious alcoholic and lives an extremely lonely, difficult life. Mayella's father is both physically and sexually abusive, and she is forced to raise her numerous siblings by herself. Mayella Ewell takes the witness stand in chapter 17, where she falsely accuses Tom Robinson of assaulting and raping her. During Atticus's cross-examination, he asks Mayella several revealing questions about her upbringing, and the reader gains insight into her difficult life. Scout reiterates Mayella's testimony by saying,

. . . their relief check was far from enough to feed the family, and there was strong suspicion that Papa drank it up anyway—he sometimes went off in the swamp for days and came home sick . . . (Lee, 185).

It is also clear that Mayella does not have any friends and has not graduated high school. When Atticus asks if Mayella has any friends, she replies,

You makin‘ fun o’me agin, Mr. Finch? (Lee, 186).

Mayella also reluctantly admits that her father is abusive when he drinks. When Atticus asks her if she gets along with her father, Mayella implies that he is an abusive alcoholic by saying,

He does tollable, ‘cept when— (Lee, 186).

During Tom Robinson's testimony in chapter 19, Scout comes to a realization about Mayella Ewell and says,

As Tom Robinson gave his testimony, it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years. When Atticus asked had she any friends, she seemed not to know what he meant, then she thought he was making fun of her. She was as sad, I thought, as what Jem called a mixed child (Lee, 195).

When Tom Robinson proceeds to testify about the events that took place on November 21st, it is revealed that Bob Ewell sexually abuses his daughter. Tom says,

She [Mayella] says she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don’t count (Lee, 197).

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In chapter 17, during Scout's narration to readers, she reveals an oddity about Mayella:

One corner of the yard, though, bewildered Maycomb. Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson, had Miss Maudie deigned to permit a geranium on her premises. People said they were Mayella Ewell's.

This quote might fit nicely into your paper as around this quote Scout describes the Ewell family's home. It is filthy and dirty and gross. Any humane person would long to get out, or long to have pride in something, or long for cleanliness. These red geraniums demonstrate these longings in Mayella. She wants to escape the filth that terrorizes her life every day.

In chapter 18, Mayella's time on the stand reveals even more about her personality and hardships:

"What did your father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it? Why don't you tell the truth, child, didn't Bob Ewell beat you up?"

When Atticus turned away from Mayella he looked like his stomach hurt, but Mayella's face was a mixture of terror and fury.

Atticus is asking Mayella who really beat her. The "mixture of terror and fury" demonstrates that she is angry with Atticus for asking, but the terror shows that there may be a more than likely chance that he is completely correct to make the assumption he does. It would be quite a hardship to endure defending a man who hurts you.

Moments later, Mayella reveals her strength even in the midst of weakness:

Suddenly Mayella became articulate. "I got somethin' to say," she said. Atticus raised his head. "Do you want to tell us what happened?"

But she did not hear the compassion in his invitation. "I got somethin' to say an' then I ain't gonna say no more. 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, stinkin' cowards, the lot of you. Your fancy airs don't come to nothin-your ma'amin' and Miss Mayellerin' don't come to nothin', Mr. Finch."

She yells at the audience, declaring how things are going to be (strength), but she can't see Atticus's manners for what they are worth. Therefore, she demonstrates her simple-minded inability to identify common courtesy. She uses mean names to present herself as tough, but she comes across as weak.

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