Innocence of Mayella Ewell
“”Mayella Violet Ewell–!” A young girl walked to the witness stand. As she raised her hand and swore that the evidence she gave would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help her God, she seemed somehow fragile-looking, but when she sat facing us in the witness chair she became what she was, a thick-bodied girl accustomed to strenuous labor.” –To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Mayella Ewell, daughter of Bob Ewell, accused Tom Robinson of assault and rape.
She was nineteen. Mayella did not have a good, solid education or a mother. She lives in a secluded household with several siblings and one father. Many people in Maycomb County consider the family trash, especially the family’s father. Bob Ewell constantly breaks the law, and he’s an alcoholic. The Ewell family barely have enough financial support to scrape by.
Can you imagine living like this? The family is harshly rumored, motherless, poor, and not properly educated. The Ewell family lived offensive, frustrated, rude, and reckless. The only instructions the Ewell children had to follow was the instructions of their father. Everyone gave the family (including the father) a pass for their behavior, because they pitied them. Bob Ewell was allowed to hunt out of season (which is against the law), if not the townsfolk knew the Ewell children would starve. No one was particularly rude or friendly to the family.
Atticus questioned Mayella about friendship on the witness stand. Mayella didn’t even know definition of the word “friend”! The Ewell children received quiet affection from one another, that’s it. You might’ve have noticed how I excluded Bob from the last sentence. Why did I do that? Bob Ewell wasn’t a very affectionate person. Tom Robinson gave Mayella open affection. Not romantically.
But Tom cared about her, he cared! He felt very sorry for her, and simply wanted to help her. Through this sympathy and care, Tom started helping Mayella with chores at her house. From these several acts of kindness, Mayella and Tom began to form an odd friendship. To Tom this was being a good person. To Mayella this was everything! Mayella siblings never wanted to help her.
Bob probably gave her all these chores to do in a day that couldn’t have been all done without Tom’s help. Before Tom if wasn’t done and it was bad day for Bob, like most of them likely were, she would’ve been on the floor bleeding, obtaining several bruises, dried tears on her cheeks, and struggling to catch her breath. In Mayella eyes, Tom was a lifesaver! Soon enough, she began to start obtaining feelings for her lifesaver. She’s nineteen. She never felt this way before. She has never knew someone like him before.
She is getting swept up in her feelings and her constant daydreams. She has begun to be reckless. She had fallen stupid for Tom, and she knows of no way back. So she continues. She came up with “fool-proof” plan. Mayella will save up the correct amount money for her siblings to be away.
She will ask him inside, and when opportunity arises she’ll kiss him. It’s November Twenty-first, this plan will commence, today. Everything is ready and prepared. Then it happened. There were little bumps, awkwardness, and confusion. But she kissed him! She looked at Tom, praying for a look of joy, but instead saw confusion and horror.
Mayella felt the pile of embarrassment rising in her chest and the tears about to prick her eyes. How could anything get worse than this? Then she heard her father shouting and screaming. Tom swiftly raced away from the scene. Around the same time her father arrived. He’s obviously drunk by the way he staggered toward her.
And she got the beating of a life time. She was never hurt so much emotionally and physically at the same time. Out of absolute stupidity it seems, her father then filed charges against Tom. She didn’t want this, but she knew if she didn’t do what Bob told her she’ll receive another beating. And the next time, she don’t think she would survive. Mayella sits on the witness stand and lies from shame and fear.
The only good thing that came out of it was that it got her through the night. I don’t like what Mayella did. I don’t think anyone did. She was a fool, but she was scared. She participated in an act that ultimately lead to an innocent man’s death. However, I don’t think she ever intended for that to happen.
Here’s the funny thing. You tell yourself if you were placed in these situations, you would be better and that you would do the right thing. Theoretically, think about this. You have known of no other place to live besides your terrible home. After all, you know no one outside of your family (besides Tom Robinson, and he’s in jail).
This horrible home has been your entire life and everything you do know. Also, no matter how terrible it is, it’s still home. Would you have the courage to a) leave your home and b) to do what’s right for a good man, even though, this act will end up with you possibly being severely abused? As well as do all that at the age of nineteen, and a few months after your heart has been broken. No. I don’t think anyone would be able to do that.
But we cross fingers and pray that we would. Mayella was no mockingbird, but she was innocent.