Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird - Chapters 12-21: Personal Response

As you followed the action in the courtroom, which character did you emphatise with most? least? Explain.

I emphatised with Mayella Ewell most. From her responses, we are able to tell that she does not have any real friends. Tom Robinson was probably the only man she viewed as decent. Although she might had committed the offence in a moment of impulsiveness, I still emphatised with her. She also had a father like Bob Ewell who spend the handout on whisky for himself instead fo buying food to provide for his children. She was physically abused by Bob Ewell and was even beaten up by him when he discovered their heinous act. Mayella had a huge burden on her shoulders, which was to look after her siblings whom Bob Ewell did not cared about. Mayella testified against Tom Robinson in court probably because she wanted to destroy evidence that she was the one who advanced upon Tom Robinson, otherwise there would be many unnecessary arguments and fights. Mayella could have also been threatened by Bob Ewell not to tell the judge exactly what happened at the crime scene.

I emphatised with Bob Ewell least. We can see him as the main antagonist here as the story centers around the case of Tom Robinson. Bob Ewell was an irresponsible, impulsive, dishonest, selfish and stingy alcoholic, who barely cared about his children. The handouts which he received were spent on whisky for himself, instead of buying food to provide for his children. He made no effort to manage and discipline his children but just go out and poach to provide food for his family. He pushes all the responsibilities on Mayella, which resulted in her not having the opportunity to go out and meet people, thus having a limited view of the outside world. Bob Ewell also physically abused her daughter and called her a whore when he saw what had happened that day.


  1. Dear Ivan,

    Although I agree with you that Mayella had a huge burden on her shoulders, however I still am unable to truly empathise with her. Firstly, we all know that she was telling a lie, and this move proved to be fatal. Although I understand your point of Mayella being threatened by Bob, I still do not find her actions logical. Firstly, if you say that Mayella had no real friends, with Tom Robinson being the only man she viewed as decent, why would she betray him? Would she choose her horrible father over the only person she viewed as decent? If she really cared about Tom, could she really have the heart to get him into such fatal consequences?

    No matter how timid and shy a person is, they will always stand up for what they cherish most. What Mayella did in the court showed even spite. This was shown from her eyes glaring angrily at Tom in the story.

    Therefore, though I understand that you can feel empathy to Mayella, she would not be the person who you would feel empathetic the most. I feel a much more feasible choice is Tom Robinson. He was a good, decent, hard-working black man with a family to take care of, and has been falsely accused of raping a white woman. In addition, the writer sets the tone of Tom Robinson to that of innocence. It is very hard to believe that Tom Robinson would have lied during the court case. More on that on my blog.

    However, this post was on the overall well written and really challenged my opinions on Mayella.


  2. Dear Ivan,
    Although you have focused on how Mayella had no choice but to lie in court, or that what she did was for the benefit for all, I would like to disagree. Mayella may have been pitiful and beaten by her father into telling a lie. However, had she told the truth, her father, who was not much of a father anyway since he did not care for his children, may have been detained and Mayella would not have been beaten up. Instead, she risked Tom Robinson's life in order to save her own skin. Furthermore, she viewed Tom Robinson with anger in court, is that what someone should do when one has used another person's life in order to exact revenge if one is feeling guilty and view that other person as a friend? This goes to show that other than to save her own skin, Mayella also wanted to harm Tom Robinson for not submitting himself to her advances.

    Perhaps she is not someone would empathise with the least, since many people have been in situations where they had to lie in order to protect themselves. However, I doubt she is someone one should empathise with the most, after all, in order to protect herself and out of anger for Tom Robinson, she lied about what Tom Robinson did. Imagine if she had been successful and no amount of appeals on Tom Robinson's part could cause the jury to change their minds. If Tom Robinson was executed due to that, wouldn't what Mayella Ewell did be equivalent to murder? Except for the fact that she lied and used someone else's power in order to commit that crime.

    Chong Kai En (2i106)

  3. Thanks for all your opinions, I certainly have a different viewpoint of the issue at hand.

    Regarding the points you have raised about lying and using someone's else power to commit the crime, I feel that the educational and social background and childhood of Mayella directly affected her actions. I do not emphatise with Mayella's actions but rather her childhood and her interactions with the Maycomb society.


  4. What are the different points of view of characters in the courtroom: Including the following
    * Tom Robinson
    * Mayella
    * Tom Ewell
    * The judge
    * The prosecutor
    * The jury
    * The sheriff
    * The black citizens in the balcony
    * Scout
    * Jem
    * Dill
    * Atticus Finch