Ewell is not shaken from his story, but Atticus carefully plants the seed that Mr. Ewell himself could've beaten Mayella.
Mockingbirds in To Kill a Mockingbird
Mayella takes the stand next. Even though Atticus believes that she's lying, he treats her with courtesy and respect; Mayella thinks that he's making fun of her. Her testimony soon proves that Mayella is unused to gentility and common courtesy. Atticus asks Tom to stand up so that Mayella may identify him; as he does, Scout notices that Tom's left arm is withered and useless — he could not have committed the crime in the way it was described.
The state rests its case. Atticus calls only one witness — Tom Robinson. Tom tells the true story, being careful all the while not to come right out and say that Mayella is lying. However, Tom makes a fatal error when he admits under cross-examination that he, a black man, felt sorry for Mayella Ewell. Dill has a very emotional response to Mr. Gilmer's questioning and leaves the courtroom in tears.
Scout follows Dill outside, where they talk with Dolphus Raymond, who reveals the secret behind his brown bag and his drinking. Scout and Dill return to the courtroom in time to hear the last half of Atticus' impassioned speech to the jury. Just as Atticus finishes, Calpurnia walks into the courtroom and heads toward Atticus. At this point in the story, readers may be tempted to think that Tom Robinson's trial is basically about white prejudice against African Americans.
Prejudice certainly does come to play in the court proceedings, but Lee explores much deeper human emotions and societal ideals than the straightforward mistreatment of a person based on skin color. The Ewells are what people today would call "white trash.
How does atticus react to bob ewells challenge
No truant officers could keep their numerous offspring in school; no public health officer could free them from congenital defects, various worms, and the diseases indigenous to filthy surroundings. Just beyond their home is a "Negro settlement. The fact is that most in the African American community live cleaner, more honest, and more productive lives than the Ewells. Consequently, the resentment against blacks on the part of the "white trash" runs deep. Against this backdrop of a trial where a "white-trash" female is accusing a black man of a violent crime, Lee expertly explores several of the novel's major themes while focusing on the questions of prejudice and class or social station.
In Maycomb during the time of Tom Robinson's trial, African Americans reside at the bottom of the totem pole as far as power in the community. Even Scout, who probably can't yet define the term "prejudice," tells Dill, "'Well, Dill, after all, he's just a Negro. In Scout's world, some things just are, and the fact that blacks are "just Negroes" is one of them. In fact, Scout shows her lack of intentional prejudice by admitting "If he [Tom Robinson] had been whole, he would have been a fine specimen of a man.
It is fair to assume, however, that the adult Scout who is actually telling the story has come to understand the error of thinking that any human being is lesser than another based solely on skin color. If Scout believed that blacks were truly lesser, then her character would have no reason for telling this story — the story she'd tell, if she told one at all, would be markedly different. The blacks in the community accept their lot. They may not like the treatment they receive, but to defy the rules set by the community means literally risking their lives.
Tom Robinson did nothing but help Mayella Ewell. In fact, he "was probably the only person who was ever decent to her. But, for an African American man to publicly admit feeling pity for any white person is overstepping societal bounds. In truth, Tom embarrasses Mayella by refusing her advances and Mayella embarrasses her father by making advances toward a black man. Bob Ewell's pride can't afford for a black man to go back to his community talking about a white woman making a pass at him.
Worse yet, Tom is now aware of incest in the Ewell household, something that is taboo in every class. Tom was unlikely to tell anyone of what had happened with Mayella, recognizing that his safety was at stake. Bob Ewell could've let the whole thing drop, but he'd rather be responsible for an innocent man's death than risk having his family further diminished in the town's eyes. Truthfully, Tom's testimony actually embarrasses the Ewells more. Tom tells the court that Mayella asked him to kiss her saying, "'what her papa do to her don't count,'" which informs the whole town that Bob Ewell sexually abuses his daughter.
He further tells the court that Bob called his own child a "goddamn whore. Tom is a compassionate man, and ironically, his acts of kindness are responsible, at least indirectly, for his current situation. In Maycomb society and, truthfully, the Southern United States at this time , basic human kindness from a black person to a white person is impermissible.
The consequences are deadly when the "lesser" show their compassion — and then have the audacity to admit it — for the "greater. The all-white jury is in an awkward position. If they acquit a black man who admittedly pities a white person, then they're voting to lessen their own power over the black community. However, if they convict Tom, they do so knowing that they're sentencing an innocent man to death. Mayella makes their choice very easy when she looks at the jury and says, "'That nigger yonder took advantage of me an' if you fine fancy gentlemen don't wanta do nothin' about it then you're all yellow stinkin' cowards.
It's that simple. You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't. Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives.
But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad. There are just some kind of men - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results. They've done it before and they'll do it again and when they do it -- seems that only the children weep. Good night. Ladies in bunches always filled me with vague apprehension and a firm desire to be elsewhere.
Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. As a reader I loathe introductions Introductions inhibit pleasure, they kill the joy of anticipation, they frustrate curiosity.
There are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them. It's not necessary to tell all you know. It's not ladylike -- in the second place, folks don't like to have someone around knowin' more than they do. It aggravates them. Your not gonna change any of them by talkin' right, they've got to want to learn themselves, and when they don't want to learn there's nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language. There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son.
I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible. We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they're born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? Summer, and he watches his children's heart break. Autumn again and Boo's children needed him.
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. Atticus sat looking at the floor for a long time. Finally he raised his head. Scout, he said, Mr. Ewell fell on his knife. Can you possibly understand?
Atticus looked like he needed cheering up. I ran to him and hugged him and kissed him with all my might. Yes sir, I understand, I reassured him. Tate was right.
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Atticus disengaged himself and looked at me. What do you mean? Atticus put his face in my hair and rubbed it. When he got up and walked across the porch into the shadows, his youthful step had returned. Before he went inside the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley.
Thank you for my children, Arthur. She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.
Quotes From To Kill a Mockingbird
Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it.
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