Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

In what key way was Tom Robinson's version of events different from Mayella's in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Unlike Mayella Ewell, who gives primarily only a non-specific version of what happened on the day she was "attacked," Tom delivers a detail-oriented recollection of the events that was far different from that of the Ewells'. While Mayella claimed that this was Tom's first visit to the Ewell property, Tom admitted that he had been there "lots of times." Mayella said she never invited Tom inside the Radley fence, but Tom said that it "Seemed like every time I passed by yonder she'd have some little somethin' for me to do..." Mayella claimed to have offered Tom a nickel to "bust up this chiffarobe," but Tom said he had broken up the chest months before, and that he never accepted money from her. Mayella testifies that when she left Tom outside and went into the house for the nickel, she turned around and he attacked her. But Tom claims to have been invited inside; and when he climbed on a chair to "git that box down from on top of the chiffarobe,"

"... the next thing I knows she--she'd grabbed me round th' legs... She scared me so bad I hopped down an' turned the chair over."  (Chapter 19)

It was Mayella who attacked him, Tom testifies, and she hugged and kissed him before he managed to escape from the house. Tom also brings up several other important points: Mayella told him she'd never kissed a man before--"what her papa do to her don't count"--and that "she might as well kiss a nigger." She ordered him to "Kiss me back, nigger," and as he was leaving, Tom heard Bob threaten to kill her.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team