To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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In what ways would you sympathize with Mayella Ewell, and in what ways would you empathize with her? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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By the time of the trial, you could make the argument that Mayella is old enough to take responsibility for her actions and recognize differences in ethical choices. To an extent, she does because she is conflicted with how to act. But she has been living in an abusive environment, raising the children on her own, never going to school, and therefore never receiving any influence outside of that home. So, to a large extent she is a product of her environment and should get some sympathy; more than most people in the town who did not have to grow up in such an intellectually stagnant and backward family. Once in the light of the trial, facing the entire town, she feels she must lie to avoid the wrath of her father and to avoid being outcast even more by a town that still has racist tendencies and would look down on her for attempting to seduce Tom. Ironically, the only person in the story who treats Mayella with any kind of compassion or respect, is Tom and he’s the only one she will...

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