To Kill a Mockingbird

Who offers the next testimony and what is his version of the story chapter 19


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Tom Robinson is called to the witness stand. He tries to put his left hand upon the Bible, but it is a futile effort, as his left arm is entirely non-functional.

In Tom's version, he says he passed by the Ewell house every day on his way to work at Mr. Link Deas's farm, where Tom picks cotton and does other farm work. Tom confirms that one day last spring, Mayella asked him to chop up an old chiffarobe with a hatchet, but that was long before the November day in question. After Tom performed that favor for her, Mayella often asked him to help her with odd jobs around the house as he passed by. She offered him a nickel the first time, but he refused payment, knowing that the family had no money. He said he helped her out because she didn't seem to have anyone else to help her, and that he never went onto the Ewell property without being invited. Scout thinks about how lonely Mayella is - she's so poor that white people won't befriend her, but black people will avoid her because she's white.

Atticus asks about the events on November 21 of that year. Tom says that he passed the Ewell house as usual, and everything seemed very quiet. Mayella asked him to come inside and fix a broken door, but when he got inside the house, the door didn't look broken. Then, Mayella shut the door behind him and said she had sent the children to town to get ice cream, having saved for a very long time to be able to give each child a nickel. Tom starts to leave, but she asks him to take a box down from on top of another chiffarobe. As Tom reached for the box, Mayella grabbed him around his legs. He was so startled that he overturned a chair. Next, she hugged him round the waist and kissed his cheek, and as Tom explains, said that, "she never kissed a grown man before an' she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her pap do to her don't count." Mayella asks him to kiss her back, and Tom asks her to let him out of the house. However, her back is to the door, and he doesn't want to force her to move. He knows that as a black man, if he lays a hand on her he could later be killed. Then Mr. Ewell arrives, happens upon the scene, calls his daughter a "goddamn whore," and tells her he will kill Tom. Tom runs away in fear.