To Kill a Mockingbird

how does Atticus start his questioning on mayella? what is he trying to demonstrate for the jury?

chapter 18

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Atticus questions Mayella, but first asks her some background questions to show the jury what kind of family she comes from. At first, Mayella takes exception to Atticus calling her "Miss Mayella," and the judge has to explain that Atticus is imply being polite. He treats everyone on the stand with the same respect, no matter who they are or where they come from. In her cross-examination, we learn Mayella is nineteen and her family receives relief checks, but there isn't enough food to go around; her father seems to be a drunkard. Mayella went to school for a few years but none of her eight siblings go, and their mother is dead. Mayella doesn't seem to have any friends. Atticus asks if Mr. Ewell is a loving father, and with hesitation, Mayella says that he is "tolerable" except when he has been drinking. However, she insists that he never lays a hand on her or beats her.