To Kill a Mockingbird

Mayella Ewell Character Analysis

Bob Ewell’s 19-year-old daughter. She’s described as thick and used to hard labor and cultivates bright red geraniums in the family’s yard. and Scout can tell that though Mayella tries to keep clean, she’s regularly unsuccessful. The oldest child in her family, it falls to her to care for the younger children. She accuses Tom Robinson of beating and raping her, though Atticus, through his questioning of her and of Robinson, shows that Mayella was unloved, abused, starved for attention. It’s clear that she was actually beaten by her father when he caught her forcibly touching Robinson, and was not raped at all—though it’s heavily implied that Mr. Ewell has, in fact, sexually abused Mayella in the past. Though Mayella comes close to admitting that Mr. Ewell beats her when he drinks, she refuses to change her testimony and admit that she accused Robinson of rape, so that she can escape the fact that she broke an important social code as a white woman tempting a black man.

Mayella Ewell Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird

The To Kill a Mockingbird quotes below are all either spoken by Mayella Ewell or refer to Mayella Ewell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Chapter 19 Quotes

“If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?”

“Like I says before, it weren't safe for any nigger to be in a—fix like that.”

“But you weren't in a fix—you testified that you were resisting Miss Ewell. Were you so scared that she'd hurt you, you ran, a big buck like you?”

“No suh, I's scared I'd be in court, just like I am now.”

“Scared of arrest, scared you'd have to face up to what you did?”

“No suh, scared I'd hafta face up to what I didn't do.”

Related Characters: Tom Robinson (speaker), Mr. Gilmer (speaker), Bob Ewell, Mayella Ewell
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mayella Ewell Character Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the character Mayella Ewell appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17
Prejudice Theme Icon
...what happened: Mr. Ewell called him out because Tom raped his daughter. Mr. Tate found Mayella beaten up on the floor and she identified Tom as her rapist, so he took... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...rude to Mr. Gilmer and makes a crude joke when Mr. Gilmer asks if he’s Mayella’s father. Judge Taylor tells Mr. Ewell to not speak like that in his courtroom, but... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...call a doctor and asks if Mr. Ewell agrees with what Mr. Tate said about Mayella’s injuries. He asks the court reporter to read them word for word, and then asks... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
...doesn’t agree. She understands that Atticus is making the case that Mr. Ewell could’ve beaten Mayella, but she thinks that Tom may also be left-handed. (full context)
Chapter 18
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Mayella takes the stand. Scout can tell that Mayella tries but fails to keep clean, and... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Atticus takes over questioning. He calls Mayella “miss” and “ma’am,” which offends her. Scout is flabbergasted and Judge Taylor assures Mayella that... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Atticus asks Mayella to identify her rapist, so she points at Tom. Atticus asks Tom to stand, and... (full context)
Chapter 19
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
...year-round and passes the Ewell house to get to and from work. He often greeted Mayella, and last spring she asked him to chop up a chiffarobe. He refused the nickel... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Scout realizes that Mayella must be the loneliest person in the world and is probably lonelier than Boo Radley.... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Tom says that the Ewell place seemed quiet. He entered the yard at Mayella’s invitation and when she asked him to look at the door, entered the house. The... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Tom insists he didn’t rape Mayella, and that he ran because he was scared—being black, he couldn’t have fought back differently.... (full context)
Chapter 20
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...says that this case is easy. Tom isn’t guilty, but someone is. He says that Mayella is guilty. She hasn’t committed a crime, but she broke societal rules. She’s the victim... (full context)
Chapter 23
Courage Theme Icon
...Mr. Ewell’s credibility at the trial and if Mr. Ewell spitting in his face saved Mayella a beating, he’s fine with it. Aunt Alexandra isn’t so sure that they’re in the... (full context)
Chapter 27
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...way when he won in court. Atticus points out that nobody really believed him or Mayella, and nobody thinks he’s a hero like he wanted. He says that Judge Taylor made... (full context)