Here is the answer and explanation to the question In Chapter 18, what are your impressions of Mayella and Atticus? Also, to what extent do you sympathize with Mayella?
In Chapter 18, what are your impressions of Mayella and Atticus? Also, to what extent do you sympathize with Mayella?
“In Chapter 18, Atticus uses his knowledge of people to question Mayella Ewell in order to make her contradict herself on the witness stand. He purposely addresses her as Miss Mayella, making her feel uncomfortable and putting her on the defense. As a result, she makes mistakes with her story and fails to convince the jury that Tom Robinson raped her.”
In Chapter 18, Mayella Ewell takes the witness stand. Mr. Gilmer begins by asking Mayella a rather simple question about where she was at on the evening of November 21st. Mayella says, “on the porch ,” and fails to elaborate (Lee 239). When Judge Taylor encourages her to…
In Chapter 18, Mayella Ewell takes the witness stand. Mr. Gilmer begins by asking Mayella a rather simple question about where she was at on the evening of November 21st. Mayella says, “on the porch,” and fails to elaborate (Lee 239). When Judge Taylor encourages her to tell them what happened, Mayella burst into tears and mentions that she is afraid of Atticus, referring to his sneaky lawyer tricks. Jem mentions that she has good enough sense to garner sympathy from the judge, and Mayella answers all of Mr. Gilmer’s questions confidently. Before questioning Mayella, Atticus politely addresses Mayella as “Miss Mayella,” and explains to her that he has no intention of scaring her. Scout comments that Mayella looks furiously at Atticus and acts resentful while on the witness stand. Mayella says, “Won’t answer a word you say as long as you keep on mockin’ me” (Lee 243). Mayella takes offense to being called Miss, which portrays her as an overly sensitive, informal individual. As Atticus continues to question Mayella, her informal dialect reflects her lack of education and Scout says, “Mayella sounded like a Mr. Jingle in a book I had been reading” (Lee 244). Atticus casually asks Mayella questions which describe her unfortunate home life. The audience learns that her father is an abusive alcoholic, she comes from a poor family, and she is in charge of taking care of her siblings. When Atticus asks her if she has any friends, Mayella becomes hostile and thinks he is making fun of her. Atticus calmly continues to question Mayella about the night of the incident without being forceful, until Mayella seems to forget whether or not she was hit in the face. Mayella becomes flustered and confused, and begins to contradict herself. Atticus increasingly pressures Mayella to tell him where the children were at during the struggle and Mayella refuses to answer. Mayella finally breaks down and begins to sob uncontrollably.
Mayella clearly is fabricating her story because she gives a contradicting testimony. She is hostile towards Atticus and is insecure on the witness stand. Mayella tries to gain sympathy from the judge and jury by crying when she is asked tough questions. Although she is lying, the reader does feel some sympathy for her. The fact that Mayella has to live with an abusive father and is forced to take care of her siblings by herself is rather sad. She also does not have any friends, which amplifies her loneliness.
Atticus is portrayed as a calm, polite individual in Chapter 18. He takes his time and slowly pressures Mayella into repeating her convoluted story. Atticus is successful in revealing Mayella’s lie by questioning her about specific details of the struggle that she is not able to fully “recall.” Atticus’ methodical approach depict him as cool-headed, experienced lawyer.
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