"Red Geraniums": On the Humanity of Mayella Ewell

Essay by jazzepiJunior High, 9th gradeA+, October 2014

download word file, 8 pages 0.0

"Red Geraniums":

On the Humanity of Mayella Ewell

Scout and Jem Finch, Tom Robinson, and Dill Harris: all foreground characters who ­ while in

the "spotlight" of the book ­ are all deemed equally worthy of compassion, and of understanding.

However, there are others which seem to fade into the woodwork; forgotten in the flurry of events

following the climactic Robinson trial. Miss Mayella Ewell, for example ­ nineteen; stuck in the miasma

of poverty and abuse; more than worthy of the compassion of each and every one of the book's 15

million readers around the globe. Her resilience in the face of years of abuse, destitution, and sheer

loneliness are all apparent within her character despite of her last name as a Ewell, or perhaps ­ if I may

muse ­ because of her last name as a Ewell.

When some people take the time to examine the word loneliness, they might be reminded of

hermits in the woods, reminded of criminals exiled to the very far reaches of the Earth where the tendrils

of the sun struggle still to pierce the shadows of primal jungles. What nobody takes the time to consider

is the great loneliness that one can find within the "company" of others: the kind of lonely that Mayella

Ewell has been almost her whole life. This is the kind of loneliness that causes bitterness to cling like

barnacles to someone's psyche. "'Miss Mayella,' said Atticus, in spite of himself, 'a nineteen­year­old

girl like you must have friends. Who are your friends?' The witness frowned as if puzzled. 'Friends?'"

(Lee, pg 183). Even the simplest of social and developmental necessities are foreign subjects to

Mayella, even enough make her hostile. After the latter quoted segment, it should be noted that she

lashed out: accusing...