To Kill A Mockingbird Notes To Kill A Mockingbird – Chapters 18-19 Summary Mayella testifies next, a reasonably clean nineteen-year- old girl who is obviously terrified. She says that she called Tom Robinson inside the fence that evening and offered him a nickel to break up a dresser for her, and that once he got inside the house he grabbed her and took advantage of her. In Atticus’ cross-examination, Mayella reveals that she has seven siblings to care for, a drunken father, and no friends. Then Atticus examines her testimony and asks why she didn’t put up a better fight, why her screams didn’t bring the other children running, and–most importantly–how Tom Robinson managed the crime with a useless left hand, torn apart by a cotton gin when he was a boy. Atticus begs her to admit that there was no rape, that her father beat her.
She shouts at him and calls the courtroom cowards if they don’t convict Tom Robinson, and then bursts into tears refusing to answer any more questions. In the recess that follows, Mr. Underwood notices the children up in the balcony, but Jem tells Scout that the newspaper editor won’t tell Atticus– although he might include it in the social section of the newspaper. The prosecution rests, and Atticus calls only one witness–Tom Robinson. Tom testifies that he always passed the Ewell house on the way to work, and that Mayella often asked him to do chores for her.
On the evening in question, she asked him to come inside the house and fix a door. When he got inside, however, there was nothing wrong with the door, and he noticed that the other children were gone. Mayella told him that she had saved her money and sent them all to buy ice cream, and then she asked him to lift a box down from a dresser. When he climbed up on a chair, she grabbed his legs, scaring him so much that he jumped down. Then she hugged him around the waist, and asked him to kiss her.
As she struggled, her father appeared at the window, calling Mayella a whore and threatening to kill her, and then Tom fled. Link Deas, Tom’s white employer, stands up and tells everyone that in eight years of work, he has never had any trouble from Tom. Judge Taylorexpels him furiously from the courtroom for interrupting; then Mr. Gilmer gets up and cross-examines Tom. The prosecutor points out that the defendant was once arrested for disorderly conduct, and gets Tom to admit that he has the strength, even with one hand, to hold a woman down and rape her.
Then he begins to badger the witness, asking about his motives for always helping Mayella with her chores, and getting him to admit that I felt right sorry for her. That doesn’t go over well in the courtroom– black people are not supposed to feel sorry for a white person. Mr. Gilmer goes over Mayella’s testimony, accusing Tom of lying about everything. Dill begins to cry and Scout takes him out of the courtroom.
Commentary If Bob Ewell is villainous, his daughter is pitiable, and their miserable existence almost allows her to join the novel’s parade of innocent victims–she, too, is (up to a point) a kind of mockingbird. Lee’s presentation of Mayella emphasizes her role as victim–her father beats her and possibly molests her, while she takes care of the children and so lacks kind treatment that when Atticus calls her Miss Mayella,she accuses him of making fun of her. She has no friends, and Scout seems justified in thinking that she must have been the loneliest person in the world. Even Atticus pities her. Mayella’s victimization is marred by her attempt to become a victimizer, to destroy Tom Robinson in order to cover her shame. We can have no real sympathy for Mayella Ewell–whatever her sufferings, she inflicts worse cruelty on others. Pity must be reserved for Tom Robinson, whose honesty and goodness render him supremely moral. Unlike the Ewells, he is hardworking, honest, and has enough compassion to make the fatal mistake of feeling sorry for Mayella Ewell, a white girl.
His story is clearly the true version of events: the story leaves no room for doubt, a detail that a number of critics find unconvincing. But equally clearly he will be a martyr. We are spared much of Mr. Gilmer’s cross-examination when Dill’s crying takes Scout out of the courtroom (he is still a child, who responds to wickedness with tears), but the small sample that Scout hears is enough. To the racist mind, Tom (called boy by the prosecutor) must be lying, must be violent, must lust after white women–because he is black.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Chapters 20-22 Summary Outside the courtroom, Dill complains to Scout about how Mr. Gilmer treats Tom Robinson. As they walk, they encounter Mr. Dolphus Raymond, the rich white man with the colored children, drinking from a paper sack. He commiserates with Dill, and offers him a drink, which turns out to be Coca-Cola.
Mr. Raymond tells the children that he pretends to be a drunk to provide the other white people with an explanation for his lifestyle when in fact, he simply prefers black people to whites. When Dill and Scout return to the courtroom, Atticus is making his closing remarks. He has finished going over the evidence, and now makes a personal appeal to the jury. He points out that the prosecution has produced no medical evidence of the crime and instead is relying on the shaky testimony of two unreliable witnesses; moreover the physical evidence suggests that Bob Ewell, not Tom Robinson, beat Mayella. Then he offers his own version of events, describing how Mayella, lonely and unhappy, committed the crime of lusting after a black man, and then concealed her shame by accusing him of rape after being caught.
Atticus begs the jury to avoid the state’s assumption that all black people are criminals, and to deliver justice by freeing Tom Robinson. As soon as Atticus finishes, Calpurnia comes into the courtroom and hands him a note telling him that his children have not been home since noon. Mr. Underwood says that Jem and Scout are in the colored balcony, and have been since just after one in the afternoon. Atticus meets them outside, and tells them to go home and have supper. They beg to be allowed to hear the verdict, and their father says that they can return after dinner, but the jury will probably return by then.
They eat quickly and return to find the jury still out, the courtroom still full. Evening comes, night falls, and the jury continues to deliberate; Jem is confident of victory, and Dill has fallen asleep. Finally, after eleven that night, the jury enters. Scout remembers that a jury never looks at a man it has convicted, and the twelve men do not look at Tom Robinson as they file in and deliver a guilty verdict. The courtroom begins to empty, and as Atticus goes out, everyone in the colored balcony rises in a gesture of respect. Jem spends the rest of the night in tears, railing against the injustice of the verdict. The next day, Maycomb’s black population delivers an avalanche of food to the Finch household.
Outside, Miss Stephanie Crawford is gossiping with Mr. Avery and Miss Maudie, and she tries to question Jem and Scout about the trial. Miss Maudie rescues the children by inviting them in for some cake. Jem complains that his illusions about Maycomb have been shattered: he thought the people were the best in the world, but having seen the trial, he doesn’t think so. Miss Maudie points out that there were people who tried to help, like Judge Taylor, who appointed Atticus instead of the regular public defender; and that Atticus’ keeping the jury out so long was actually a sign of progress.
As the children leave her house, Miss Stephanie runs over to tell them that Bob Ewell accosted their father that morning, spat on him, and swore revenge. Commentary Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s presence outside the courtroom is appropriate: like Miss Maudie, he does not belong inside with the rest of the town, because he does not share their guilt. Mr. Raymond is a harsh realist, and while he shares Dill’s outrage, he is too old to cry.
In a way, Mr. Raymond is describing himself: he is an unhappy figure, a good man who has turned cynical and lost hope. You haven’t seen enough of the world yet, he tells Scout. You haven’t even seen this town, but all you gotta do is step back inside the courthouse. To Mr. Raymond, Maycomb’s racist side is the real Maycomb.
Atticus, less embittered, seems to hold out hope for the town–his eloquent closing argument is devoid of despair. Rather, he speaks to the jury with confidence and dignity. Even after the verdict has been handed down, there is a sense that progress has been made, in some small way–as Miss Maudie puts it, I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step–it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step. Jem, however, doesn’t see things that way. Scout is bewildered by the verdict, but is resilient and retains her positive view of the world.
Her brother is crushed: his illusions about justice and the law have been shattered. In a way, he is as much a mockingbird, an innocent victim, as Tom Robinson, but the Ewells do not take his life: they take his childhood and his youthful idealism. To Kill A Mockingbird – Chapters 23-25 Summary Bob Ewell’s threats are worrisome to everyone except Atticus. He tells his children that because he made Mr. Ewell look like a fool, the other man needed to get revenge, and now that Ewell has that vengefulness out of his system, he expects no more trouble.
Aunt Alexandra and the children remain worried. Meanwhile, Tom Robinson has been sent to another prison seventy miles away while his appeal winds through the court system. Atticus feels his client has a good chance at being pardoned, but if no, he will go to the electric chair, as rape is a capital offense in Alabama. Jem and Atticus discuss the justice of executing men for rape, and then the subject turns to jury trials, and how twelve men could have convicted Tom. Atticus tells his son that in an Alabama court of law, a white man’s word always beats a black man’s, and that they were lucky to have the jury out so long. In fact, one man on the jury wanted to acquit– amazingly, it was one of the Cunninghams.
This makes Scout want to invite young Walter Cunningham to dinner, but Aunt Alexandra expressly forbids it, telling her niece that the Finches do not associate with trash. Scout is furious, and Jem hastily takes her out of the room. In his bedroom, Jem reveals his (minimal) growth of chest hair, and tells Scout that he is going to try out for the football team in the fall. Then they discuss the class system, and why their aunt despises the Cunninghams, and why the Cunninghams look down on the Ewells, who hate black people, and so on; they fail to come up with an explanation for the absurdity of it all. One day in August Aunt Alexandra invites her missionary circle to tea. Scout, wearing a dress, helps Calpurnia bring in the tea, and her aunt invites her to stay with the ladies. Scout listens to the missionary circle discuss the plight of the poor Mrunas, a benighted African tribe being converted to Christianity, and then talk about how their own black servants have been badly behaved ever since the trial.
Miss Maudie shuts them up, and suddenly Atticus appears, calls his sister, Scout, and Miss Maudie out of the meeting with the news that Tom Robinson has been shot attempting to escape. He goes to tell the Robinson family, and Alexandra asks Miss Maudie how the town can allow her brother to do this to himself. Maudie says that the town trusts him to do right, and then they return to the missionary circle, managing to act as if nothing is wrong. A few days later, Jem tells his sister ho …