In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson is accused of rape. What is rape?
In the context of this novel, rape is when a man forces himself on a woman sexually. In other words, Tom Robinson is accused of having sex with Mayelle Ewell against her will. It is clear that the two did kiss, but there was no actual sexual contact. Kissing is not considered rape, and Mayella initiated the kiss. In the South at this time there was no crime more terrible than a black man raping a white woman. Innocent men were often accused of rape, because they were black. Sometimes this was just because they were there, and sometimes it was because they were in a relationship with a white woman, which society would view as wrong.