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To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 17









Mr. Heck Tate, the sheriff, is the first person to testify. On the night in question, Mr. Ewell called Tate to the house. When the sheriff got there, he found Ewell’s daughter lying on the floor, badly beaten. She told the sheriff that Tom Robinson had raped and beaten her. He then got Tom Robinson, brought him to the Ewell house, and asked Mayella if he was the one. She said he was, so the sheriff arrested Robinson.
Who is the first person to take the stand? Briefly summarize his testimony
He tries to establish which side of the girl’s face was beaten. Tate says that it was the right side: “It was her right eye…I remember now, she was bunged up on that side of her face….”
What does Atticus spend much of his time asking Mr. Tate?
She compares him to a rooster, describing him as “a little bantam cock of a man.” The comparison is fitting because he struts to the stand, has a very red complexion, and his nose is “thin, pointed, and shiny,” like a beak. He speaks loudly and obnoxiously, prompting Scout to describe him as crowing like a rooster.
To what animal does Scout compare Mr. Ewell?
How is the comparison fitting?
They live behind the town dump. Economically and socially they are at the bottom among Maycomb’s white population.
Where do the Ewells live, and what does this say about their social position in Maycomb County?
Ewell is crude and informal. He calls the prosecuting attorney “cap’n” and answers the attorney’s questions rudely and sarcastically. The judge puts a quick end to his offensive behavior: “…let’s get something straight. There will be no more audibly obscene speculations on any subject from anybody in this courtroom as long as I’m sitting here.”
How does Mr. Ewell act when he first takes the stand, and how does Judge Taylor react to him?
Ewell claims that he heard Mayella screaming, so he ran to the house. When he looked in the window, he saw Tom Robinson raping her. He says he then ran around the house to get in but Tom Robinson was already running out the front door. He then went to get the sheriff.
What is Mr. Ewell’s version of what happened?
He wants the court to see that Ewell is left-handed. Heck Tate had testified that the bruises were on the right side of Mayella’s face. This would strongly suggest that the person who hit her was left-handed.
Why does Atticus want Ewell to write his name?
However, Scout is skeptical that the information proves anything. What are her doubts? Scout understands that Atticus is trying to show that Ewell might have been the one who beat Mayella. However, the information does not prove that he did it. For one thing, she reasons, Tom Robinson might be left-handed, too.
Jem thinks that Atticus has clinched the case by establishing that Ewell is left-handed.