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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Is Mayella Ewell a victim in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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To Kill a Mockingbird is the world-renowned novel written by Harper Lee. It focuses on the racial tensions that arise when a white woman, Mayella Ewell, falsely accuses Tom Robinson, an innocent black man, of rape. This is a horrible thing to do. However, Lee provides quite a bit of evidence in her story to show us why Mayella accused Tom of raping her.

The Ewells are one of the poorest white families in Maycomb. They are looked down upon by the other citizens of the town. The only reason they're not the lowest of the low is that they're still white. This puts them a rung above all black individuals in the area.

Mayella's mom dies when she's young. Afterward, Mayella becomes a surrogate wife to her father and a mother to her younger siblings. She's unable to go to school and is sexually, emotionally, and physically abused by her father. She lives a tragic life that she is incapable of improving. That's why she's excited by the idea of entering into a sexual relationship with Tom Robinson when he visits the house.

For the first time in her life, she has control over another person. Tom has to either refuse her or enter into a relationship with her. Both choices will forever change him and put his life in danger. He decides to refuse Mayella, who responds by falsely accusing him of rape. At Tom's trial, Mayella and her father are proven to be liars. However, that doesn't stop the all-white jury from sentencing Tom to death.

Given all this, you have to ask yourself whether you consider Mayella to be a victim in To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, she did something horrible in basically killing Tom because he wouldn't consent to her desires. However, it's worth asking whether she would have felt the need to engage in a relationship with Tom in the first place if it wasn't for her horrible lot in life. If she was able to go to school or didn't have an abusive father, maybe she would have believed there were other ways for her to improve her situation. The answer to this question is ultimately a personal one, though, so consider all of the evidence and respond based on how you feel.

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