Mayella's gender does not by itself make her powerless, but it does contribute heavily to her powerless status. In actuality, it in the intersection of her poverty, her gender, and her family's "white trash" status in the Maycomb community that has stripped her of power.
Mayella's mother is dead, and her father is an alcoholic. The family does not send its children to school, so Mayella lacks an education. Her father has earned the contempt of the community for his shiftless ways. Mayella is therefore isolated from the respectable white community that might have offered her support. Although she lives near the black community, strict racial lines isolate her from that social group as well.
Because she is a white woman and the oldest child, gender norms make it acceptable—and even desirable—for her stay at home and help raise the younger children. Gender norms also keep her in physical fear of defying her volatile, alcoholic father.
Because she feels she has nowhere else to go and no...
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