What are some quotes from Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird that depict Tom's innocent nature when he agrees to help Mayella Ewell? 

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 19, Tom Robinson takes the witness stand and testifies that he did not assault or rape Mayella Ewell. Tom tells Atticus that he was acquainted with Mayella Ewell and even helped her bust up an old chiffarobe. Atticus then asks Tom if he ever went inside her yard again. Tom responds by telling Atticus that he entered the Ewell yard numerous times. Tom comments that every time he walked past the Ewell home, Mayella asked him if he could help her with various small jobs and tasks. When Atticus asks Tom if he was ever paid for his services, Tom says,

"No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time. I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn't seem to help her none, and neither did the chillun, and I knowed she didn't have no nickels to spare" (Lee 117).

Later on in the trial, Mr. Gilmer comments that Tom must have been a generous person for helping Mayella with her chores. Gilmer then asks Tom why he did all that work knowing that he wouldn't get paid. Tom says,

"I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em---" (Lee 120).

Despite Tom's generosity and willingness to help out Mayella, he is viewed with contempt by the jury because he is a black man who felt sorry for a white woman.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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