Last Updated 15 Apr 2020

To Kill a Mockingbird-Mayellas Motives for Accusing Tom

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In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee there is a recurring them involving racism and incest in the town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930’s. Mayella Ewell is a nineteen year old girl living at home with her abusive drunk father, and 8 younger brothers and sisters. Her mother died thus leaving her to be the mother figure in the poor household. Mayella accuses twenty-five year old black man Tom Robinson of raping her. Mayella had multiple motives for falsely accusing Tom Robinson of her rape. Mayella accused Tom because she was forced to by her father, Bob Ewell and because that man is her father.

It is made very clear during the trial that it was not Tom Robinson who raped Mayella Ewell, but instead her own father. She blamed Robinson because she was evidently coersed by Bob Ewell. In Tom’s testimony he spoke of Mayella’s actions before Bob Ewell came in, “She says she never kissed a man before an’ she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don’t count” (page 260). When Bob saw Mayella and Tom together being the mean drunk he is he beat and raped Mayella. In anger, he knew someone would have to pay for what he saw going on between Tom and Mayella.

It was not hard to convince people in a town like Maycomb that Tom was guilty. He was black, he had a criminal record known to the citizens of Maycomb since it was such a small town, and he lived in the same neighborhood as the Ewells. People had most likely seen Tom entering the Ewell home because on more than one occasion, Mayella asked Tom to come in and help do some work around the house. “She’d call me in, suh. Seemed like every time I passed yonder she’d have some little somethin’ for me to do” (page 56). Mayella was coursed by her own father to accuse Tom because Tom was such an easy target to cover up her father’s actions.

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Mayella falsely accused Tom Robinson for another reason too. For the most part, victims love their abusers. Mayella is the victim and Bob Ewell is the abuser. Bob Ewell does not do anything productive but regardless he is still Mayella’s provider of many things like a home. Mayella, after being coersed by her father would much rather come off as the victim of abuse my some ‘evil’ black man than her father. “That nigger yonder took advantage of me an’ if you fine fancy gentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ about it then ou’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, stinkin’ cowards, the lot of you” (page 251).

Mayella was the one who initiated the incident too so instead of taking responsibility for it she would rather put the blame on a black man who would of course not even have a chance in court. Mayella accused Tom Robinson for rape when in reality it was Bob Ewell, her father. She did this because her father made her do it and because she would much rather blame the black man than admit that she came onto him and that it was actually her father that beat and raped her.

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