To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Why did Tom regret his explanation of why he helped Mayella in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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During his examination, Tom Robinson tells the court that he helped Mayella Ewell on several occasions because he felt sorry for her.  Scout instantly recognizes this confession as a mistake.  For their society, even though Tom is better off that Mayella (he has a loving family) he is black and therefore can't fell sorry for a white woman, no matter how poor her circumstances. She also notes how the prosecution refers to Tom as "boy" throughout the questioning process.

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