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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, what is Tom Robinson accused of? Why can't his wife find a job? 

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Tom Robinson is a black man accused of assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell on the evening of November 21. Tom Robinson had offered to help Mayella complete a chore inside her home when she suddenly began kissing him. Tom immediately pushed Mayella away and ran out of the home as fast he could. Unfortunately, Bob Ewell witnessed his daughter kissing Tom, which is considered a social taboo in the racist town of Maycomb, and began to yell at Tom as he fled from the home. Bob Ewell then assaulted Mayella and falsely accused Tom Robinson of beating and raping his daughter. Tom Robinson was then arrested and Atticus was instructed by Judge Taylor to defend him.

In chapter 12, Scout and Jem attend First Purchase African M.E. Church for Sunday service, and Scout asks Reverend Sykes why Helen Robinson, Tom's wife, is having difficulty finding work. Calpurnia responds to Scout's question by telling her,

Folks aren’t anxious to—to have anything to do with any of his family (Lee, 125).

Unfortunately for Tom's family, the prejudiced citizens of Maycomb refuse to hire Helen because she is associated with Tom. However, Link Deas ends up eventually offering Helen Robinson a job.

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Tom Robinson was accused of coming into the home of teenage Mayella Ewell and raping her.  Tom was black and Mayella was white.  These facts elevated the supposed crime in the minds of many people in Maycomb.

These accusations sent Tom to jail.  He was married to Helen, and they had several children.  While he was in jail and unable to work, his wife needed to find a way to help support the family.  She wanted to work, but she needed someone to keep her children for her.

The Robinson children were not the only predicament that Helen faced when finding a job.  Calpurnia explained to Scout that due to the nature of the supposed crime, many people were not wanting to associate themselves with Helen.  Calpurnia told Scout: "Folks aren't anxious to— to have anything to do with any of [Tom's] family" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 12).  

Link Deas eventually found a job for Helen.  He proved to be an excellent employer.

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