To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 19

Tom is unable to lift his left hand to place it on the Bible. Instead, he must move it onto the book with his right hand. It is obvious that he cannot use his left hand at all. This indicates that it is very unlikely that Tom could have caused the bruises on Mayella’s face. When Tom Robinson takes the oath, what is made clear about his left hand? How doesthis help Atticus’s case?
When Tom passed by the Ewell house, Mayella called to him, requesting that he fix a door inside the house. He found nothing wrong with the door and prepared to leave. Then, Mayella asked him to get a box down from the top of the chiffarobe. When Tom stood on a chair to reach the box, she startled him by grabbing his legs. She started hugging him and kissing him, demanding that he kiss her back. He told her to let him out of the house but she blocked the door. At that point, Mr. Ewell appeared at the window and started shouting at Mayella. Tom ran out of the house as fast as he could. Summarize Tom’s testimony. According to him, what happened on the day of the alleged crime?
Mayella had sent the other children to town for some ice cream. This suggests that she wanted them out of the house because she wished to be alone with Tom. Where were the other Ewell children on that day? What does this fact suggest aboutMayella’s motives concerning Tom?
The running makes him appear guilty, but he had no other choice. Essentially, Tom was trapped. He knew that no matter what he did, he would be in trouble. As Scout tells the reader, “Until my father explained it to me later, I did not understand the subtlety of Tom’s predicament: he would not have dared strike a white woman under any circumstances and expect to live long, so he took the first opportunity to run—a sure sign of guilt.” What does Tom’s running away from the Ewell house suggest? What else could he have done?
Link Deas stands up and says, “I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’trouble outa him. Not a speck.” Link Deas is one of the few white people in Maycomb who judges a person by his character and actions as opposed to his race. What does Link Deas say about Tom Robinson, and how does his statement show that he is different from the majority of white people in Maycomb?
Gilmer is harsh and insulting. He does not talk about evidence or ask questions relevant to Tom’s testimony. Instead, he insinuates that Tom “had [his] eye” on Mayella for a long time and that this was the reason Tom helped her with her chores around the Ewell house. He completely ignores Tom’s reason for running and insists that Tom ran because he was “scared [he would] have to face up to what [he] did.” He speaks rudely, sarcastically, and condescendingly to Tom, calling him “boy” throughout the entire cross-examination and treats Tom with complete disrespect. How would you describe Mr. Gilmer’s cross-examination of Tom Robinson? What is his strategy? What is his tone?
Gilmer is outraged by Tom’s admitting he felt sorry for Mayella. He lashes out at Tom: “You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?” The idea that a black man would or even could feel sorry for a white woman is shocking and highly offensive to most of the whites in Maycomb. By their reasoning, since blacks are inferior to whites, it is absurd to imagine that any black person couldfeel sorry for a white person. This would be contrary to the entire racist social order of the town. When Tom admits that he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell, what is Gilmer’s reaction? What is the reaction of the majority of white people in the courtroom?
Dill is very upset by the disrespectful way that Mr. Gilmer has been treating Tom. He explains to Scout, “The way that man called him ‘boy’ all the time an’ sneered at him, an’ looked around at the jury every time he answered…It ain’t right…Hasn’t anybody got any business talkin’ like that—it just makes me sick.” Why does Dill begin to cry?

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