To Kill a Mocking Bird - How important is the trial in dealing with the theme of Prejudice.
Maycomb is a town riddled with prejudices and stereotypes and the trial of Tom Robinson shows and makes clear those prejudices to us.
Firstly, during the trial, Jem, Scout and Dill sit upon the balcony with the blacks. This is significant because in the court there is a great sense of segregation and
we can see the children's innocence because they don't have the same view of the
blacks as the rest of the community - they don't have any prejudices at all.
On the other hand, Bob Ewell is a prime example of 'White Trash'. He has a seething hatred for the Negroes and even though he is neither morally better nor more respectable than Tom Robinson, he is seen by the community as superior simply because he is a white man and, in their eyes, whites are better than blacks.
When Scout says that the only thing that makes Bob Ewell better than Tom Robinson is the fact that if his skin were rubbed he would be a white man beneath, it shows that a black man doesn't have a chance against a white man's word.
Mayella, however, even though she is the daughter of Bob Ewell, doesn't adopt the same prejudices as her father and even though she lives around the town dump, she still makes an effort to better herself and make herself more civilised. She feels ashamed, to some extent, at the values of her father and her standard of living, and when she is caught trying to make moves on Tom Robinson, her father makes her feel ashamed of herself.
Mayella represents a violated white female and a victim of poverty and narrow-mindedness. She can't really make advances in her life due to her father's lazy and drunken demeanour. I deduce that Bob is abusive towards her and as a result, her
self-esteem must be very low and she mustn't be able to maintain a high level of self
respect when her father is constantly knocking it down. She feels imprisoned like Boo
Radley and her father puts to an end all of her attempts to socialise.
When she seduces Tom Robinson and her father finds out, he makes her feel so ashamed that she helps Bob, her father, to get away with his perjury. The likelihood that the jury would acquit Tom is almost imaginary. The reason for Mayella's outburst during Atticus' cross-examination, is that she wishes to put an end to the audience's and jury's conclusions of what really happened, by pointing out to them that Tom Robinson is a black man, and that black men are not to be trusted around white women. She comes out with this outburst, also, because there are evident cracks in her story which threaten to expose the truth. She feels that the prejudice of the community is a 'get out of jail free' card for her and in her opinion, this is more important than the life of an innocent, respectable black man, who has done nothing other than be kind and helpful to her in contrast with her father's neglect and abusive ways. In a way, she is inadvertently...