Fear in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Over the course of Tom Robinson’s trial, Mayella’s state of mind shifts from anxious and nervous to distress and panic due the aspects of guilt and fear. When Mayella is called to the witness stand, and asked to provide her testimony, she is very uneasy, uncertain and hesitant towards her claims. As the questions grow more specific and complex, Mayella has a difficult time answering and struggles with providing the truth. The jury calls nineteen-year-old Mayella Ewell to the witness stand to provide evidence regarding the charge of Tom Robinson. Mayella is claimed to be a victim of the sexual harassment and is here to testify her side of the situation, either confirming, or denying it. When Mr. Gilmer tells Mayella to describe the events of the evening when she was attacked, she “s[its] silently…stare[s] at him, and burst[s] into tears” (179). When Judge Taylor tries to calm her down, she points to Atticus and tells the jury that she is afraid of him. Mayella’s first few actions and responses to the jury illustrate her nervousness and anxiety in regards to speaking up about this assumed crime. The fact that she began to cry due to fear towards Atticus demonstrates that she has something to hide – her guilt, and her shame. The gavel symbolizes Mayella’s guilt and her uncertainty towards her testimony. This symbol is significant because Mayella lacks a sense of confidence in her tone, as she struggles to answer the provided questions, and she can therefore be viewed as

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