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To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 13 - 18 
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 13 - 18
Robert Tulip wrote:
Chapter 18 begins with Mayella Ewell on the witness stand. To Kill A Mockingbird reflects Harper Lee’s own experience with her father as a lawyer in a similar situation in Alabama, with the detail of observation that can only come from such first hand experience. The way Mayella reacts, accusing Atticus of being rude to her for speaking with common courtesy, illustrates such awareness of how people from the lowest classes of society, who are routinely excluded from all social respect, behave in court.

Mayella interpret Atticus's courtesy as sarcastic, because whoever would speak to her sincerely in such a way? This, too, illustrates the lack of respect she would have encountered from other white people. I don't necessarily fault other whites for not understanding the underlying reasons for Mayella's stunted development. She's very rough, even a bit frightening, after all, and there are always socially-set limits to compassion. Such an acute psychologist Harper Lee can often be.



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Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:42 am
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 13 - 18
Quote:
“Was this the first time you asked him to come inside the fence?”
Mayella jumped slightly at the question.
Here Harper Lee builds the portrayal of Mayella as lying on instruction from her father. By repeating and emphasising that this was the first time Tom Robinson had visited, Mayella would be digging herself a hole if the jury were fair. But then she immediately retracts her emphatic declaration amidst wrathful snuffles of pure hatred directed toward Atticus.

And after this comes the dramatic climax of the book:

Quote:
Will you identify the man who raped you?” “I will, that’s him right yonder.” Atticus turned to the defendant. “Tom, stand up. Let Miss Mayella have a good long look at you. Is this the man, Miss Mayella?” Tom Robinson’s powerful shoulders rippled under his thin shirt. He rose to his feet and stood with his right hand on the back of his chair. He looked oddly off balance, but it was not from the way he was standing. His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right, and hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shriveled hand, and from as far away as the balcony I could see that it was no use to him.


The implication is that it is impossible for a one handed man to choke and punch a person in the way Bob and Mayella Ewell have described, and that therefore they are covering up the reality that Bob Ewell assaulted his daughter.


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Harry Marks
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