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The Desire for Sympathy

            Even the most despicable of characters can be worthy of sympathy. Sympathy is defined as the feeling of pity for a person. One can only receive sympathy if they have been plagued with despair and misfortune. In a novel such as To Kill a Mockingbird, it is hard to sympathize with any characters due to the animosity and racial tension between the Maycomb inhabitants. There are few characters that merit sympathy. Mayella Ewell has had a very challenging life, being in such a dysfunctional household. Tom Robinson's skin colour has been a hindrance to his freedom. Boo Radley has been cast away from society for what seems like an eternity. Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley have experienced extreme adversity in their lives which makes them deserving of sympathy. .
             Mayella Ewell suffers both emotional and physical trauma in a household with a domineering father. Mayella has been the victim of abuse from her father, Bob Ewell. Her father gets very violent because he is an alcoholic. No human being should have to endure such physical abuse, especially from their own biological parent. This constant abuse has inevitably lead her to become mortified of her father. This is why she lies during her testimony about her father's abusive ways saying, " My paw's never touched a hair o' my head in my life." ( Lee, 246) Mayella also feels compelled to accuse Tom Robinson of raping her. Another concern Mayella has is being ostracized by the whole town of Maycomb. She is aware that it is intolerable for her to try and seduce a black man. Atticus elaborates on this idea during his closing argument at the trial saying: "She has committed no crime, she has merely broken a rigid and time honoured code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with.she tried to put the evidence away from her." (272).
             One cannot condone Mayella's false accusations against Tom Robinson leading to his internment, however, one must understand the dilemmas she is facing.

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