What was Tom Robinson's side of the story about the incident between him and Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom's testimony differs greatly from that of Mayella Ewell's, and most readers will find it far more believable. While Mayella's version of the events were less specific and even contradictory, Tom's narrative is straightforward, and Scout

... found myself believing in him in spite of his protesting too much. He seemed to be a respectable Negro...

According to Tom, Mayella summoned him one day while he was walking by her house. He had helped Mayella "lots of times" before (Mayella first claimed that she had never asked Tom "inside the fence" before, but then admitted that "I mighta"). When he went up to her, Mayella told Tom that she needed some work done inside the house: A door was falling off its hinges. When Tom checked the door, the hinges were okay, and she slammed the door behind him. She told him she had sent the children away to buy ice cream: They were alone inside the house. When Tom told her he was going to leave, she asked him to stand on a chair and get a "box down from on top of the chiffarobe." When Tom did this, Mayella

"... grabbed me round th' legs, Mr. Finch. She scared me so bad I hopped down and turned the chair over--..."

When Tom got down off of the chair, Mayella

"... sorta jumped on me."
     "Jumped on you? Violently?"
     "No suh, she--she hugged me. She hugged me round the waist."

Then, according to Tom, Mayella kissed him on the side of the face. She said she had never kissed a man before

"... an' she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don't count. She says, 'Kiss me back, nigger.' I say Miss Mayella lemme outta here..."

But Mayella stood in his way, and Tom knew better than to push--or even touch--a white woman. When he asked Mayella to "lemme pass," Bob Ewell showed up. It was then that Tom beat a hasty retreat, hearing Bob yell at Mayella,

"... you goddam whore, I'll kill ya."

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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