4. What big mistake does Tom Robinson make during his testimony?
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During his testimony Tom was questioned as to why he always made the time to help Mayella. His response was to say that he felt sorry for her.
"Yes suh. I felt right sorry for her; she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em-"
"You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?" Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling.
The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. But the damage was done. Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson's answer. Mr. Gilmer paused a long time to let it sink in."
Tom' mistake was to say that he felt sorry for her. It was unheard of for blacks to feel empathy for whites and implied that he (a black man) was better off than she was. In a white community, this would have been seen as completely impossible.
To Kill a Mockingbird