To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," when Mr Ewell arrived on the scene,what did he see through the window that infuriated him?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 17, Bob Ewell takes the witness stand after Sheriff Tate testifies. During Bob's testimony, Mr. Gilmer asks him to recall what happened on the evening of November 21, and Bob testifies that he initially heard his daughter screaming from inside the house. Bob continues his testimony by stating that he ran towards his yard, looked in the window of his home, and saw "that black nigger [Tom Robinson] yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella" (Lee, 175). Immediately following Bob Ewell's graphic testimony that he saw Tom Robinson raping his daughter, Judge Taylor is forced to hammer his gavel numerous times to quiet the crowd. Bob proceeds to testify that he immediately ran for Sheriff Tate and informed him that he had witnessed Tom Robinson raping his daughter. As the trial progresses, Atticus proves that both Bob Ewell and his daughter are lying and implies that Bob was Mayella's perpetrator.

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In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping Mayella Ewell (a white woman), announced while on trial that he felt sorry for Mayella.  He knew that she was often alone and wished for some company.  So, one day on his way home, she asked him to help her with something inside the house.  Although he was weary of such a favor, his compassion for her was too strong.  He agreed to help, but when he got inside the house she began to hug and kiss him.  Being frightened of this, Tom ran away, but the damage had already been done.  Bob Ewell had seen everything from the window and in a rage; he violently beat his daughter to punish her for berating herself to the point of throwing herself in a black man’s arms.  Of course, not wanting to admit to the violence himself, Bob accused Tom of raping his daughter.

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