Even though Mayella Ewell lies on the witness stand, she is still a sympathetic character. She doesn’t want to be known as being Ewell trash and wants out of the horrible life she has at home. As readers, we already know what life at the Ewell household is like due to Scout’s first day of school when we met one of the Ewell children, Burris. He was dirty and had a bug crawling out of his hair. Their house is by the dump. There are always kids running around. And their father spends the welfare money on alcohol. It is no wonder why Tom Robinson felt bad for her.
As Atticus interrogating Mr. Tate, the book went into more depth of life at the Ewell’s home. They are considered trash. The only thing that makes them better than African Americans is that they are white. It explained how the yard looked like “the playhouse of an insane child” (170), but in the corner there was red flowers. “Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums… People said they were Mayella Ewell’s” (170-171). This shows that she isn’t like the rest of her family. She wants a better life for herself.
The reason Mayella lied is because she is afraid of her father. He is an alcoholic who continuously abuse her both physically and verbally. She is expected to take care of all the children. She is nineteen years old and never has had any friends. Mayella was surprised by how nice Tom was to her because she never experienced that sort of kindness. One day she took advantage of his kindness and tried to seduce Tom which started the whole mess.
We all know that it was Mr. Bob Ewell who beat her up after seeing her kiss Tom. The reason her father got so upset was because Tom was a black man, and Mr. Ewell is very racist. The jury should have known she was not telling the truth by the way she did not answer the last questions Atticus asked her. If Tom really did rape her, she would have said so without hesitation when Atticus asked her “Who beat you up? Tom Robinson or your father?” (187). Instead Mayella said if they did not believe her, they were coward and then said no more. She left the stand giving Atticus the death stare. If the judge and Atticus did not feel bad for her, they could have held her in contempt and put her in jail.