Now the trial was at the point of both lawyers having questioned the witness Heck Tate and Heck Tate was to step down from the court and allow the next witness to appear. This was Mr. Ewell (Robert). It is apparent right from the beginning of this stage that Scout dislikes Mr. Ewell as her immediate description of him is, “… a little bantam cock of a man…”.
This description shows that Scout dislikes Mr. Ewell which indicated to the reader that they to should dislike Mr. Ewell also – the reason that this tool has been used by Harper Lee is to emphasise the clear opposites between the Ewells and the non- prejudice side of Maycomb to heighten the importance of the trial within the book and increase the emotion involved.
Scout further describes the Ewell’s circumstances. Initially she touches on the fact that the children don’t go to school and have not done for generations. This is vitally important as this is an example of traditional country life in a modernised world where Jem and Scout are living. The reason that this is of significance is that the fact that the Ewells are living this traditional life is an explanation of their prejudice, as in the past, America was mainly a racist and prejudiced society where it was socially acceptable to display racist behaviour and to even kill someone for the fact that they were Black. However, the Ewells not being modern people, hold on to these traditional values as these values are some of the only things they have but these values are challenged all of the time in a rapidly and morally maturing society.
The next description about the Ewell’ s life is that, “ Maycomb Ewell lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negro cabin”.
This is important as the Ewell’s are living in such poor living conditions next to a dump. By it being important I mean that the fact they live in such poor conditions that are very similar to that of the poor black peoples’ conditions means that this is likely to be another root of the Ewell’s prejudice, as the Ewell’s stand for their traditional racist values, and in reality they are on the same level or standard as the black people, if not worse. This will infuriate the Ewell’s as they realise that their values are false and they are basically black except for their skin colour in the eyes of themselves due to their prejudice. Also the fact they live in a cabin which was once owned by a black person shows that as they did not build it for themselves so they have not achieved anything and have no reason to be proud as the black people.
After this description of the house they live in, Scout moves on to describe the way they act. She tells the reader that every day the Ewell’s go to the dump and attempt to salvage anything thing that they can use. Scout does not have a very positive tone about this and a tone which reflects her feeling of pity to the Ewell’s- this again shows that the Ewell’s have no social standing within their community and the only reason any person ever connecrts themselves with the Ewell’s is in a sense of pity towards their circumstances no matter how much they dislike the Ewell’s- if the Ewell’s were black then they would receive non of this treatment and would simply gain the title of the lowest of Maycomb.
After the lengthy description of disapproval towards the Ewell’s, a positive thing about how they live is described. This is the presence of six perfectly kept geraniums (flowers) outside the Ewell property. It is indicated that these are owned by Mayella Ewell and the single point that Mayella Ewell has cared for six perfectly kept flowers, keeping them looking as they should, shows that somebody in the Ewell household does show emotion and a feeling of wanting to improve their lives. Mayella had felt motivated enough to produce these flowers that by Scout’s comparison were worthy of Miss Maudie Atkinson’s flowers standards, means that possibly Mayella is not like the rest of her family and is different- just a person that is a victim of their families circumstances. This is essential to know as the use of showing Mayella’s difference to the rest of her family by flowers is showing that she is quite a sensitive person which directly ties in with the trial.
Now the questioning of Mr. Ewell was to begin. Mr Gilmer (the defence lawyer in arguing Mr Ewell’s case.) asked Mr Ewell when he approached the stand to confirm his identity so addressed him by his name in a questioning tone, to this Mr Ewell replied, “ That’s m’name, cap’n.”
This shows the difference between Mr Ewell and the rest of the community as his language is not sophisticated and is almost primitive, showing his lifestyle and how he lacks similarities to the community, how he is an outkast. Mr Gilmer then proceeded to ask Mr Ewell questions that were irrelevant to the trial to prepare Mr Ewell for further questioning then gave Mr Ewell a question requesting he presents his story as to what happened on the day of the indcident in detail. Mr Ewell begins to describe what was happening telling the audience of the court that he was chopping wood and heard Mayella screaming like a “ stuck hog”.
The relevance of his referral to Mayella as a farm yard animal shows the level of respect he has for Mayella which proves that as his respect for his daughter is non existence he could well have assaulted her instead of Tom Robinson. Mr Ewell was then politely asked by Mr Gilmer what time this happened and his response was along the lines of that it was just before sundown; immediately after this Mr Ewell begins to re-describe what happened telling the audience that he dropped his wood in response to Mayella’s screaming and got tangled in the fence then ran up to the window. At this point of his evidence it is obvious that Mr Ewell is finding it difficult to express himself and give a full description, so in a final attempt to grab the approval and attention of the court he stands up and pointed his finger at Tom Robinson , then said, “ I seen that black nigger down yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!”.
This remark by Mr Ewell shows that he is not feeling confident in presenting himself within the trial and is finding it difficult to get away with lying so he resorts to one thing that he knows he can do the ensure that he gains the approvement of the jury which is to touch on racism towards Tom Robinson , showing great emotions that misleadingly project him as an outraged loving father who is angry as his daughter was assaulted. He realises this is the only way he is going to win his trial- this was the only thing he had in common with the jury and many of the spectators present within the courthouse.
Almost immediately after the comment from Mr Ewell, Reverent Sykes (the black vicar) tells Jem to take Scout home as the language used within the trial is not fit for a little girl to hear. This reminds me of Scout’s innocence and shows just how mature the children really are to at their age understand the trial and not be upset by what they hear – they can control their emotions precisely in any situation. Scout and Jem do not go home but instead stay at the courthouse in defiance to Reverend Sykes as they wish to see the rest of the courthouse drama.
Straight after this chatter which was born from Mr Ewells loud and blatant racism Judge Taylor tells the courthouse that a request has been made that all woman and children were to be removed from the courthouse as a result of the conversation, but he rejects this suggestion, instead he says that everybody has a right to hear whatever they want to hear and can decide for themselves whether or not they wish to stay or leave the courthouse- then he politely asks Mr Ewell to keep his language at an acceptable level so he is not faced with the same situation twice.
The crucial question within his questioning is then answered by Mr. Ewell. He is asked whether actually saw/ witnessed Tom Robinson having sexual intercourse with his daughter Mayella Ewell – to this he responds “ Yes, I did.”
This is crucial as by this point in the trial the reader is fully aware that Mr Ewell is lying about the event and is merely trying to cover up/ hide the fact that he beat his daughter. This also shows how immoral he is and has no sense of right and wrong, that he wants to send another human being to their death to cover up that he beat his daughter- this is an example of Mr Ewell’s inhumanity to others and his cowardliness which is expressed overall in his personality.
After Mr Ewell confirms his allegation the prosecution lawyer asks Mr Ewell some precise detailed points such as how high the window is off the ground and did he have a clear view which he answers clearly and in exact confirmation and relevance to his allegations. As with Heck Tate, Atticus was to question Mr Ewell after Mr Gilmer. Mr Ewell was reluctant to be questioned by Atticus so immediately after Mr. Gilmer had finished questioning him. In doing so, he stood up and ran into Atticus while he was futilely trying to escape answering to Atticus. From this Mr Ewell did not pass Atticus but instead returned to the witness chair as he evidently realised he would have to answer his questions and could not escape the questioning.
Atticus begins his line of questionning, highlighting that an awfull lot of running and frantic concern and defence for Mayella was made on that night but a docter was never called to confirm the claims that have been made about Mayella Ewell and whether or not she was really raped. To this very crucial comment made by Atticus Mr. Ewell in his defence responded to the question by saying, “ Wadn’t no need to. I seen what happened.”
To this response Atticus then confirms what the audience was thinking and what the reader is led to think and asks Mr. Ewell whether he was concerned for his daughter’s condition to which he responds that he was – but the reader actually knows he wasn’t and are aware in their own minds that he is lying and this brings up more questions such as whether or not Mr. Ewell could have beaten his daughter. Most people will think that he has probably beaten his daughter as he openly does not care for his daughter by any measure but is selfish and only cares for himself.
Mr Ewell is then asked if he agrees with everything that Heck Tate said in his testimony about Mayella’s injuries which he confirms. To make sure that Mr. Ewell remembers what Mr. Tate said, Atticus has Mr. Tate’s description read out to Mr. Ewell so he can fully confirm what was said; he confirms that too. Immediately after Mr. Ewell says this, Scout describes Mr. Ewell having a sudden lease of confidence rush through him as he seems to think he has conquered Atticus.
Straight after Scout’s description, Atticus asks Mr. Ewell whether he can read or write. In his huge humiliation to the question, Mr. Ewell says that he can read and write, and to this Atticus asks him to write his name for him. This is another humiliation for Mr. Ewell but Mr. Ewell rises to the challenge, says that he will and he can, and to his relief, manages to do it. Mr. Ewell wrote his name on a letter that Atticus gave him with Atticus’ fountain pen and suddenly the courthouse rose into a state of suspense and disbelief as he wrote his name as he was left handed.
Atticus saw he was left handed and asked Mr. Ewell whether he was or not then Mr Ewell realising his mistake immediately snapped at Atticus declaring that Atticus was tricking him. This was a key part of Mr. Ewell’s statement as it shows that if her right eye was the eye that was hit then if he hit on the left the place Mr. Ewell would hit would be a person’s right eye which backs up the increasing suspicion suggesting that Mr. Ewell is lying and, in fact, he himself assaulted his own daughter. After Atticus had made his point, Mr. Gilmer asked Mr. Ewell one final question before Mr. Ewell departed from the witness stand to his seat – this was whether or not Mr. Ewell was ambidextrous, to this Mr. Ewell responded with “ I most positively am not, I can use one hand as a good as the other. One hand as good as the other.”
Ambidexterity means for someone to be able to write ably with bother hands- being fluent while writing with both hands. Mr. Ewell did not know what this meant as his answer was the opposite of what was asked from him so this would not have been met by the audience and jury as a problem as he could not correctly identify whether or not he was ambidextrous. After this final question being answered by Mr. Ewell, he was now relieved of any further questioning and was allowed to return to his seat off the witness stand and it was the next witness’ turn to answer questions.
The next person to be called up was the key prosecution witness – Mayella Violet Ewell who was the centre of the allegations that she had been raped and beaten by the black man, Tom Robinson. As Mayella swears by the bible that she will tell the truth and be entirely accurate, Scout describes Mr. Ewell as being a dirty man who appeared to have a scolded look “ as if an over night soaking had deprived him of his protective layer of dirt.”
She then goes on to describe Mayella as somebody that appeared to be clean as if she was always clean and not just for the occasion of appearing in court to defend herself. This is significant as it backs up the suggestion that was aroused by the fact Mayella is sensitive and caringly grows Geraniums – as if she was to keep herself constantly clean she is different to her family and is trying to make an effort to improve her life which her father lacks.
Again first to ask a single question was Mr. Gilmer he asked Mayella what happened that night and begun by asking Mayella what she was doing on that night. She said she was on the front porch doing nothing. There is no particular significance to this except it is almost unbelievable she would be doing nothing as work is always needed to be done in the lifestyle she is a victim of- so it suggests she is telling a false tale.
Immediately after Mayella declares that she was not occupied and was doing “ nothing” on the porch judge Taylor discreetly suggested that she should possibly give more detail saying she should not be afraid, however Mayella burst into tears – this is significant as it shows that Mayella is quite a sensitive person which means that it is quite possible that out of fear she has been forced to tell a different story to what actually happened by her father; this is a very serious event that Mayella is not telling an exact memory of the event as theoretically in law she could be jailed for Perjury- which is lying in court. The fact that she will not be charged for this is a direct reflection of the prejudice that is rife within Maycomb and America – as the defendant is black and the entire jury is white, no matter how strong or apparent it is that Mayella they will always take her side, as this is seen as the socially acceptable way of behaviour with a black and a white person against each other in court.
Judge Taylor almost manages immediately after Mayella burst into tears to persuade her to start talking again, however, after Mayella witnessed Atticus’ examination of her father, she expresses abuse towards Atticus and the pre-displeasure of being questioned from Atticus as she is aware that he is a lot more cunning than her and he could create a great amount of embarrassment for her.
Judge Taylor then almost patronisingly ( ‘ almost’ as she was displaying an attitude similar to a child) calms her down and Jem and Scout pass short comments with the honest wonder of whether or not she has “ got good sense” and to this Jem offers Scout a more mature insight into what is happening and takes an overview of events revealing to Scout that whatever Mayella is doing she is gaining the sympathy of the jury and so is achieving a lot in that, as they will decide the final verdict and will already be biased towards her.
Mayella straight after her display of emotions begins her story which starts by highlighting that she addressed Tom Robinson as nigger and requested that he should come and “ bust up a chifferobe” for her to produce wood for the fire ‘ kindling’. Then very quickly she goes onto say he came in the house behind her and grabbed her by the neck and began to start beating her- she describes it in such away that is similar to a description of a vicious murder, adding emphasis at each word and making sure the jury were horrified by what had apparently happened to her. She finally goes onto say that he took advantage of her which is the part that is basically translated saying that he raped her- this is a very serious offence in America and at the time Harper Lee set the book, it would have been a capitol offence that was punishable by death, so it was a very serious allegation that Mayella had made against Tom Robinson. Mayella then goes on to further emphasise and elaborate on her story where at the same time her Lawyer is asking her to confirm the answers to questions she has asked to make her appear to be innocent – telling the truth even.
Mayella had practically influenced the jury enough for them to want to charge Tom Robinson by now and the fact she was white further helped her case against a black man.
Atticus was the final person to question her. He question ns her with a high respect to her addressed her as Miss, which is uncommon to her as she is treated not very well in her usual day as she is a woman, and women in traditional times were believed to be lesser than men and did not earn any respect, so the respect directed at her by Atticus would be a new experience to her. I believe that Atticus was addressing her like this to gain the whole cooperation from her when questioning her as if she trusted him and found him a pleasant person she was more likely to give him the answers he wanted and not to cause him problems. Mayella takes great offence to Atticus’ questioning and protests that he is mocking her as she unused to being treated nicely and probably is aware that Atticus will trick her and trap her in what she says.
Scout sees for herself that Mayella objects to being addressed politely and recognises with sympathy that she must not be treated well in her life as she is not accustomed to being treated well. Atticus then begins to question Mayella revealing how bad her life is, and again Scout recognises what is happening which is that Atticus was building up a picture of her home life to the jury to show them how she lives and what sort of person she actually is as the revilement of this would shows that she is likely to be capable of lying in court.
Next Atticus reveals that Mayella has no social life as her asks her if she has any friends and to this she cannot give an answer of anybody as she has no friends and is socially secluded from the rest of the peers in her village- she fins this an emotional subject and again parries Atticus’ questioning and tells the court he is making fun of her again. Mayella then slips up when she is asks if her father is good to her and she replied with, “ He is tollable, ‘ cept when”
This shows that Mayella has faulted in her attack on Tom Robinson as she has revealed to all in the court that her farther beats her and he gets drunk often. However, she quickly realises her mistake and attempts to rectify what happened by not continuing with her pursuit and digging herself into deeper doubt from the prejudice jury.
Straight after this Atticus asked her the question again but blatantly whether or not when her farther is drunk he beats her and she stood by her previous defence of her father and did not change her defence. Then it is revealed that previously on many occasions- very often Mayella allowed Tom Robinson to come and do chores for her and she did have a liking for him. Mayella is then asked whether or not Tom Robinson assaulted her and her response was after a few mistakes that yes he did hit her- immediately after this realising she was beginning to ruin her case she begun to cry and said that she would not answer any more questions and the only thing she said “ 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.” This was Mayella’s final words and in her review she had gained sympathy from the jury and also gained the respect and guilt of the jury who she bestowed a large amount of guilt on them leading them to believe she was an innocent sweet girl who had been innocently attacked by a black man.
Tom Robinson was the next and final person to be examined. Tom Robinson had a deformed left arm due to an accident with a piece of farming machinery when he was younger, so had to lift his hand to be able to declare his promise to tell the truth in court. Atticus was first to question the person this time as Atticus was Tom Robinson’s lawyer and was to review him first as a rule. He started by revealing to the jury that Tom Robinson was jailed previously due to a petty crime, where he was involved in a fight with another man and he was jailed as he could not pay the fine; Atticus revealed this as it showed that Tom Robinson had nothing to hide so the jury knew he was honest and would possibly believe that he was in fact telling the whole truth. Tom Robinson then enlightens the reader that he often passes Mayella’s house as it is on the way back on the return journey from his work and Mayella very frequently asked Tom Robinson to perform a chore for her and he did do this for her out of the goodness of his own heart.
As Tom Robinson gives his testimony it becomes apparent to Scout that Mayella is not well treated and she says “ it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world.” This is important as it is true and it is showing that Mayella does not have anything social and the one social thing or somebody to talk to in her life was Tom Robinson who was the most socially excluded person even more than her in the white society and he was the only hope and friendship or nice person she had ever encountered in her life so even though Tom was black she still found friendship in him.
Tom then begins to describe the exact events of the twenty first of November when the event happens and he began by saying that as he was walking past the Ewell house he noticed it was a lot quieter than usual- there were no children’s voices around and she asked Tom again to destroy a chifferobe and he did this then she asked him to come inside and fix the door so he came in to commence in the kindly act of fixing the door for her. Tom Robinson says that as he was standing on a chair Mayella grabbed him around the legs and he was so frightened he immediately jumped off the chair in sheer surprise and shock to what had happened. He then continues to say as he got off the chair she jumped on him and attempted to get him to kiss her but he declined this offer and Mr Ewell saw while he was looking through the window. This would have been a sight of agony for Mr Ewell as his beliefs are that black people are less important than white and his own daughter was attempting to kiss a black person which was socially unacceptable and especially to a family that held such traditional views as the Ewells. He then finally finished what he said by adding that he ran away as fast as he could and before this heard Mr. Ewell shout at his daughter, “ you god dam whore, I’ll kill ya”
Atticus’ questioning had now passed and it was Mr. Gilmer’s opportunity to examine Tom Robinson. He begun by touching on the point that Tom Robinson had been involved in a fight before and asked him what the man he beat looked like after he got through with him – however this was no use to Mr Gilmer as his answer was that the man was not beaten it was Tom Robinson who was beaten. He then continues trying to depict Tom Robinson as mean and capable of the offence person by making everybody aware that with one arm he could still have attacked Mayella Ewell as that arm was strong enough to chop up the strong chifferobes.
Then he pointed out that Tom Robinson was doing all of this work for free when he had his own family that needed work and Tom Robinson was questioned about his motives for this and it appeared to the jury he did this out of the goodness of his own heart out of kindness to Mayella but Tom Robinson faulted and revealed that it was not only out of the goodness of his own heart but he felt pity for her- the reason that this was a fault is that Mayella was white and he was black and this was a reversal of the code of prejudice in Maycomb as if a black person feels sorry for a white person this is seen as an outrageous thing to happen and a bad feeling so this will have definitely turned the jury’s attention and viewpoint towards Mayella Ewell as the jury were not black they were white. This effectively ended Tom Robinson’s chance of any positive votes from the jury. Further to denting his case, Tom Robinson was asked to recite the events of the day it all happened and does this however says a story different to Mayella and Mr Gilmer then accuses him of lying which further appears the masked image of Tom Robinson showing disrespect and negative contact to Mayella making him look further to be not telling the truth to the court.
Immediately at this point, Dill departs from the building in hysterics and he recognises that the behaviour that Mr Gilmer is directing at Tom Robinson is inhumane and causes a great amount of displeasure to the receiver of it but Scout explains that that is his job to act that way and any way he acts is his job and people should not take a personal offence to it. Then we are reminded of Scout’s racism as he says “ Well, Dill after all he’s just a Negro”
This is a highly racist remark which shows the relative maturity between Scout and Dill as Dill shows the innocence of a child where prejudice and race does not matter however Scout has been raised in Maycomb where it is believed that White people are superior to black people.
Tom Robinson lost the trial in the end and this was entirely due to the high amount of racial prejudice in Maycomb. It would have been apparent/ obvious to the jury that the Ewells were lying and no matter how much the jury wanted to cast their individual votes against the Ewells, they could not do this as in Maycomb it was almost a law that racism would be shown and used in the favour of white people in an argument or feud between a black and white person. The people in Maycomb were not necessarily to be depicted as bad people for their racism but their racism is a product of many generations of tradition where racism has been adopted in all forms and if a person does not know differently then they will not change their views.
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