To Kill a Mockingbird Trial Scene, Chapters 17-20
Duration: about 60 minutes
Major roles (7): Atticus, Mayella, Tom, Gilmer (Mayella’s lawyer), Bob, Judge, Tate (sheriff)
Minor roles (9): Reverend, Jem, Scout, Dill, bailiff (officer in the courtroom), Underwood (editor of the newspaper), Link (Tom’s boss, a landowner), court reporter, Calpurnia
Non-speaking roles: The jury, comprised of “country-folk”
Bailiff: All rise! The Honorable Judge John Taylor presiding.
Judge: Be seated. Will the prosecution please call its first witness?
Gilmer: Your honor, I would like to call Sheriff Tate to the stand. (Tate walks to the stand)
Bailiff: (holding Bible) Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Tate: (facing Bailiff) I do.
Bailiff: Be seated.
Gilmer: (walking up to Tate) …in your own words, Mr. Tate, tell us exactly what happened.
Tate: (touching his glasses and speaking to his knees) Well…I was called…
Gilmer: Could you say that to the jury, Mr. Tate? Who called you?
Tate: It was the night of November twenty-first. I was just leaving my office to go home when B--, I mean Mr. Ewell came in, very excited he was, and he said get out to his house quick. Some nigger’d raped his girl.
Gilmer: Did you go?
Tate: Certainly. Got in the car and went out as fast as I could.
Gilmer: And what did you find?
Tate: Found her lying on the floor in the middle of the front room on the right as you go in. She was pretty well beat up, but I heaved her to her feet and she washed her face in a bucked in the corner and said she was all right. I asked her who hurt her and she said it was Tom Robinson. I asked her if he beat her like that and she said yes, he had. Asked her if he took advantage of her and she said yes he did. So I went down to Robinson’s house and brought him back. She identified him as the one, so I took him in. That’s all there was to it.
Gilmer: Thank you. (Gilmer returns to his chair)
Judge: Any questions, Atticus?
Atticus: Yes. (stands up and walks into the open floor) Did you call a doctor, Sheriff? Did anybody call a doctor?
Tate: No sir.
Atticus: Didn’t call a doctor?
Tate: No sir.
Atticus: Why not?
Tate: I can tell you why I didn’t. It wasn’t necessary. She was mighty banged up. Something sho’ happened.
Atticus: But, you didn’t call a doctor?
Judge: He answered the question twice, Atticus. No one called a doctor.
Atticus: Just wanted to make sure, judge. (Judge smiles) Describe her injuries, sheriff.
Tate: She was beaten around the head and already had bruises comin’ on her arms. She had a black eye comin’ too.
Atticus: Which eye?
Tate: The left eye facing me, her right eye. She was banged up on that side.
Atticus: (going to the court reporter’s stand) Please repeat what Mr. Tate just said.
CR: (looking at the typewriter’s paper) The left eye facing me, her right eye. She was banged up on that side.
Atticus: Did she have other injuries, sheriff?
Tate: Yes sir. Her arms were bruised and there were definite finger marks on her gullet.
Atticus: All around her throat?
Tate: Yes sir, she had a small throat, anybody coulda reached around it with— (he stops himself)
Atticus: (pauses) No more questions, Judge. (Tate leaves the witnesses stand)
Judge: Will you call your next witness?
Bailiff: (reading his papers) Robert Lee Ewell (Bob Ewell walks to the stand and puts his hand on the Bible) Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Bob: I do.
Gilmer: Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?
Bob: Well, if I ain’t, I can’t do nothing about it now, her ma’s dead.
Judge: (sternly) Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?
Bob: (meekly) Yes sir.
Judge: Well, let’s get something straight right now, Mr. Ewell; there will be no more audibly obscene speculations on any subject from anybody in this courtroom as long as I am sitting here. Do you understand? (Ewell nods.)
Gilmer: Thank you sir. Mr. Ewell, would you tell us in your words what happened on the evening of November twenty-first, please?
Bob: Well, the night of November 21, I was coming from the woods with a load a kindlin’ and just as I got to the fence I heard Mayella screamin’ like a stuck hog inside the house. (Judge glances sharply at Ewell)
Gilmer: What time was it, Mr. Ewell?
Bob: Just ‘fore sundown. Well, I was saying’ Mayella was screaming fit to beat Jesus. (Judge rubs his forehead)
Gilmer: Yes? She was screaming?
Bob: Well, Mayella was raisin’ a racket so I dropped m’ load and run as fast as I could, but I run into the fence, but when I got distangles I run up to th’ window and I seen… (pauses, stands up angrily, and points to Tom Robinson) I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella! (the courtroom erupts and Judge Taylor hammers his gavel)
Rev: Mr. Jem, you better take Miss Jean Louise home. Mr. Jem, you hear me?
Jem: Scout, go home. Dill, you ‘n Scout go home.
Scout: You gotta make me first.
Jem: I think it’s okay, Reverend, she doesn’t understand it.
Scout: I most certainly do, I c’n understand anything you can.
Jem: Aw hush. She doesn’t understand it, Reverend; she ain’t nine yet.
Rev: Mr. Finch know you all are here? This ain’t fit for Miss Jean Louise or you boys either.
Jem: He can’t see us this far away. It’s all right, Reverend. (The judge’s hammering subsides.)
Judge: There has been a request that this courtroom be cleared of spectators or at least of women and children, a request that will be denied for the time being. People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for, and they have the right to subject their children to it, but I can assure you of one thing: you will received what you see and hear in silence or you will leave this courtroom, but you won’t leave it until the whole boiling pot of you come before me on contempt charges. Mr. Ewell, you will keep your testimony within the confines of Christian English usage, if that is possible. Mr. Ewell, did you see the defendant having sexual intercourse with your daughter?
Bob: Yes, I did.
Gilmer: You say you were at the window?
Bob: Yes sir.
Gilmer: What did you do when you saw the defendant?
Bob: Well, I run around the house to get in, but he run out the front door just ahead of me. I sawed who he was, all right. I was too distracted about Mayella to run after him so I run in the house, and she was lyin’ on the floor squallin’.
Gilmer: Then what did you do?
Bob: Why, I run for Tate quick as I could. I know who it was, all right. Robinson lived down yonder in that nigger-nest, passed the house every day. Judge, I’ve asked them for fifteen years to clean out that nest down yonder, they’re dangerous to live ‘round those people, devaluin’ my property—
Gilmer: (interrupts Bob) Thank you, Mr. Ewell. (Bob gets up as if to leave the witness stand.)
Atticus: Just a minute sir. (The courtroom laughs). Could I ask you a question or two? (Bob sits down again in the witness stand. Bob looks at Atticus suspiciously.) Mr. Ewell, folks were doing a lot of running that night. Let’s see, you say you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran to Mayella, you ran for Mr. Tate. Did you during all this running, run for a doctor?
Bob: Wasn’t no need to. I seen what happened.
Atticus: But here is something I don’t understand. Weren’t you concerned about Mayella’s condition?
Bob: I most positively was. I seen who done it.
Atticus: No, I mean her physical condition. Did you not think the nature of her injuries warranted medical attention?
Atticus: Didn’t you think she needed a doctor immediately?
Bob: I never thought of it. I never called a doctor in my life, and if I did, it’d cost me five dollars. That’s all?
Atticus: Not, quite, Mr. Ewell, you heard the sheriff’s testimony, didn’t you?
Bob: How’s that?
Atticus: You heard everything Sheriff Tate said in his testimony, didn’t you?
Atticus: Do you agree with his description of Mayella’s injuries?
Bob: How’s that?
Atticus: Mr. Tate testified that her right eye blackened, that she was beaten around the—
Bob: Oh yeah, I hold with everything Tate said.
Atticus: You do? I just want to make sure. Court reporter?
CR: Which eye her left oh yes that’d make it her right it was her right eye Mr. Finch I remember now she was banged (flips page) up on that side of the face—
Atticus: Thank you, Bert. Mr. Ewell, do you have anything to add to it? Do you agree with the Sheriff?
Bob: I holds with Tate.
Atticus: Mr. Ewell, can you read and write?
Gilmer: Objection. Can’t see what witness’s literacy has to do with the case, irrelevant ‘n’ immaterial.
Atticus: Judge, if you’ll allow the question plus another one you’ll soon see.
Judge: All right, let’s see. But make sure we see, Atticus.
Atticus: I’ll repeat the question. Can you read and write? Will you write your name and show us?
Bob: I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks? (The court chuckles and whispers.)
Atticus: (holding a piece of paper and pen) Would you write your name for us? Clearly now so the jury can see you.
Bob: What’s so interestin’?
Judge: You are left-handed, Mr. Ewell.
Bob: I don’t see what my being left-handed has to do with it. I’m a Christ fearing man and Atticus Finch takes advantage of me all the time with his tricking ways. I told you what happened. I said it again and again.
Gilmer: About your writing with your left hand, are you ambidextrous, Mr. Ewell?
Bob: I most certainly am not. I can use one hand as good as the other.
Jem: (eagerly listening) We’ve got him. (Bob takes his seat and Mayella comes to the stand)
Bailiff: Mayella Violet Ewell? Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Mayella: I do.
Gilmer: Mayella, tell the jury in your own words what happened on the evening of November twenty-first of last year, just in our own words, please. Where were you at dusk on that evening?
Mayella: (quietly) On the porch.
Gilmer: Which porch.
Mayella: Ain’t but one, the front porch.
Gilmer: What were you doing on the porch?
Judge: Just tell us what happened. You can do that can’t you? (Mayella bursts into tears, sobbing.) That’s enough now. Don’t be ‘fraid of anybody here, as long as you tell the truth. All this is strange to you, I know, but you’ve nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear. What are you scared of?
Mayella: mumble, mumble
Judge: What was that?
Mayella: Him. (points to Atticus)
Judge: Mr. Finch?
Mayella: Don’t want him doin’ me like he done Pap, trying’ to make him out left-handed.
Judge: How old are you?
Mayella: Nineteen and a half.
Judge: Mr. Finch has no idea of scaring you, and if he did, I’m here to stop him. That’s one thing I’m sitting here for. Now you’re a big girl, so you just sit up straight and tell the—tell us what happened. You can do that, can’t you?
Scout: Has she got good sense?
Jem: Can’t tell yet. She’s got enough sense to get the judge sorry for her.
Mayella: Well sir, I was on the porch and—and he came along, and, you see, there was this old chiffarobe in the yard. Papa’d brought it to chop up for kindlin’— Papa told me to do it while he was off in the woods, but I wadn’t feelin’ strong enough then, so he came by—
Gilmer: Who is he? (She points to Tom.) I’ll have to ask you to be more specific. The reporter can’t put down gestures.
Mayella: That ‘im yonder, Robinson.
Gilmer: Then what happened?
Mayella: I said come here, niggger, and bust up this chiffarobe for me. I gotta nickel for you. He could done it easy enough, he could. So he come in the yard an’ I went in the house to get him a nickel and I turned around an ‘fore I knew it, he was on me. Just run up behind me, he did. He got me round the neck, cussin’ me an’ sayin dirt—I fought ‘n hollered, but he had me round the neck. He hit me agin an’ agin. (Mayella cries) He chunked me on the ground an’ choked me ‘n took advantage of me.
Gilmer: Did you scream? Did you scream and fight back?
Mayella: Reckon I did, hollered for all I was worth, kicked and hollered loud as I could.
Gilmer: Then what happened?
Mayella: I don’t remember too good, but next thing I knew, Papa was in the room a’standin’ over me hollerin’ who done it, who done it? Then I sorta fainted an’ the next think I knew Mr. Tate was pullin’ me up offa the floor and leadin’ me to the water bucket.
Gilmer: You say you fought him off as hard as you could? Fought him tooth and nail?
Mayella: I positively did.
Gilmer: You are positive that he took full advantage of you? (Mayella nods) That’s all for the time being, but you stay there. I expect big bad Mr. Finch has some questions for you.
Judge: State will not prejudice the witness against the counsel for the defense.
Atticus: (walks to the witness stand) Miss Mayella, I won’t try to scare you. Let’s just get acquainted. How old are you?
Mayella: Said I was nineteen, said it to the judge yonder.
Atticus: So you did, so you did, ma’am. You’ll have to bear with me, Miss Mayella. I’m getting older and can’t remember as well as I used to. I might ask you things you’ve already said before, but you’ll give me an answer, won’t you? Good.
Mayella: Won’t answer a word you say long as you keep on mockin’ me.
Atticus: Pardon me?
Mayella: Long’s you keep on makin’ fun o’ me.
Judge: Mr. Finch is not making fun of you. What’s the matter with you?
Mayella: Long’s he keeps on callin’ me ma’am and sayin’ Miss Mayella. I don’t haft take his sass. I ain’t called upon to take it.
Judge: That’s just Mr. Finch’s way, we’ve done business in this court for years, and Mr. Finch is always courteous to everybody. He’s not trying to mock you; he’s trying to be polite. That’s just his way. Atticus, let’s get on with these proceedings, and let the record show that the witness has not been sassed, her views to the contrary.
Atticus: You say you’re nineteen. How many sisters and brothers have you?
Atticus: You the eldest? The oldest?
Atticus: How long has your mother been dead?
Mayella: Don’t know—long time.
Atticus: Did you ever go to school?
Mayella: Read’n’write as good as papa yonder.
Atticus: How long did you go to school?
Mayella: Two year, three year, dunno.
Atticus: Miss Mayella, a nineteen year-old girl like you must have friends. Who are your friends?
Atticus: Yes, don’t you know anyone near your age, or older, or younger? Boys and girls? Just ordinary friends?
Mayella: You makin’ fun o’ me agin, Mr. Finch?
Atticus: Do you love your father, Miss Mayella?
Mayella: Love him, whatcha mean?
Atticus: I mean, is he god to you, is he easy to get along with?
Mayella: He does tolable, ‘cept when—
Atticus: Except when?
Mayella: (looks at her dad) Except when nothin’. I said he does tollable.
Atticus: Except when he’s drinking? (Mayella nods) Does he ever go after you?
Mayella: How you mean?
Atticus: When he’s –riled, has he ever beaten you? (Mayella looks around the courtroom)
Judge: Answer the question, Miss Mayella.
Mayella: My paw’s never touched a hair o’ my head in my life, he never touched me.
Atticus: We’ve had a good visit, Miss Mayella, and now I get we’d better get to the case. You say you asked Tom Robinson to chop up a— what was it?
Mayella: A chiffarobe, an old dresser full of drawers on one side.
Atticus: Was Tom Robinson well known to you?
Mayella: Whaddya mean?
Atticus: I mean did you know who he was, where he lived?
Mayella: I knowed who he was. He passed the house every day.
Atticus: Was this the first time you asked him to come inside the fence?
Mayella: Yes it was.
Atticus: Didn’t you ever ask him to come inside the fence before?
Mayella: I did not, I certainly did not.
Atticus: One did not is enough. You never asked him to do odd jobs for you before?
Mayella: I mighta. There was several niggers around.
Atticus: Can you remember any other occasions?
Atticus: All right, now to what happened. You said Tom Robinson was behind you in the room when you turned around, that right?
Atticus: You said he got you around the neck cussing and saying dirt, is that right?
Mayella: ‘t right.
Atticus: You say, “he caught me and choked me and took advantage of me.” Is that right?
Mayella: That’s what I said.
Atticus: Do you remember him beating you about the face? (no response) You seem sure enough that he choked you. All this time you were fighting back, remember? You kicked and hollered as loud as you could. Do you remember him beating you about the face? (pause) It’s an easy questions, Miss Mayella, so I’ll try again. Do you remember him beating you about the face?
Mayella: No, I don’t recollect if he hit me. I mean, yes I do; he hit me.
Atticus: Was you last sentence your answer?
Mayella: Huh? Yes, he hit—I just don’t remember, I just don’t remember. It all happened so quick. (about to cry)
Judge: Don’t you cry, young woman.
Atticus: Let her cry if she wants to, Judge. We’ve got all the time in the world.
Mayella: I’ll answer any question you got—get me up here an’ mock me, will you? I’ll answer any question you got.
Atticus: That’s fine. There’re only a few more. Miss Mayella, not to be tedious, you’ve testified that the defendant hit you, grabbed you around the neck, choked you, and took advantage of you. I want you to be sure you have the right man. Will you identify the man who raped you?
Mayella: I will, that’s him right yonder.
Atticus: Tom, stand up. Let Miss Mayella have a good long look at you.
Jem: Scout, look! Reverend, he’s crippled!
Rev: He got his left hand caught in a cotton gin, caught it in Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s cotton gin when he was a boy…like to bled to death…tore all the muscles loose from his bones.
Atticus: Is this the man who raped you?
Mayella: It most certainly is.
Mayella: I don’t know how he done it, but he done it— I said it all happened so fast I—
Atticus: Now let’s consider this calmly—
Gilmer: (stands up) Objection. Atticus is browbeating the witness.
Judge: Oh sit down, Horace, he’s doing nothing of the sort. If anything, the witness is browbeating Atticus.
Atticus: Now, Miss Mayella, you’ve testified that the defendant choked and beat you. You didn’t say that he sneaked up behind you and knocked you cold, but you turned around and there he was—do you wish to reconsider any of your testimony?
Mayella: You want me to say something that didn’t happen?
Atticus: No ma’am, I want you to say something that did happen. Tell us once more, please, what happened?
Mayella: I toldja what happened.
Atticus: You testified that you turned around and here he was. He choked you then?
Atticus: Then he released your throat and hit you?
Mayella: I said he did.
Atticus: He blacked your left eye with his right fist?
Mayella: I ducked and it—it glanced, that’s what it did. I duck and it glanced.
Atticus: You’re becoming suddenly clear on this point. A while ago you couldn’t remember too well, could you?
Mayella: I said he hit me.
Atticus: All right. He choked you he hit you, then he raped you, that right?
Mayella: It most certainly is.
Atticus: You’re a strong girl; what were you doing all the time, just standing there?
Mayella: I toldja, I hollered ’n’ kicked ’n’ fought.
Atticus: All right, why didn’t you run?
Mayella: I tried to…
Atticus: Tried to? What kept you from it?
Mayella: I—he slung me down. That’s what he did, he slung me down ‘n got on top of me.
Atticus: You were screaming all this time?
Mayella: I most certainly was.
Atticus: Then why didn’t the other children hear you? Where were they? At the dump? (no answer) Where were they? Why didn’t your screams make them come running? The dump’s closer than the woods, isn’t it? (no answer) Or didn’t you scream until you saw your father in the window? You didn’t think to scream until then, did you? (no answer) Who beat you up? Tom Robinson or your father? (no answer) What did your father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it? Why don’t you tell the truth, child, didn’t Bob Ewell beat you up?
Mayella: (long silence) I got somethin’ to say.
Atticus: Do you want to tell us what happened?
Mayella: I got something’ t say an’ then I ain’t gonna say no more. That nigger yonder took advantage of me an’ if you fine fancy gentlemen don’t wants to do nothin’ about it then you’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, stinkin’ cowards, the whole lot of you. Your fancy airs don’t come to nothin’; your ma’am’in and Miss Mayellerin’ don’t come to nothin’, Mr. Finch. (Atticus sits down).
Gilmer: The state rests.
Judge: It’s time we all did. We’ll take ten minutes. (Atticus and Gilmer walk up to the Judge Taylor’s desk. Mr. Underwood notices Jem and Scout in the balcony.)
Scout: Jem, Mr. Underwood’s seen us.
Jem: That’s ok. He won’t tell Atticus; he’ll just put it on the social side of the Tribune.
Judge: It’s getting on to four. Shall we try to wind up this afternoon? How about it Atticus?
Atticus: I think we can.
Judge: How many witnesses you got?
Judge: Well, call him.
Bailiff: Will Tom Robinson please take the stand? (Tom approaches) Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Tom: Yes. (Tom sits in the witness stand.)
Atticus: Please tell us about yourself.
Tom: I am twenty-five years of age. I am married with three children; I have been in trouble with the law before. I once received thirty days for disorderly conduct.
Atticus: What did it consist of?
Tom: Got in a fight with another man, he tried to cut me.
Atticus: Did he succeed?
Tom: Yes suh, a little, not enough to hurt. You see, I (he shows Atticus his left shoulder)
Atticus: Yes? Were you both convicted?
Tom: Yes suh, I had to serve cause I couldn’t pay the fine. Other fellow paid his and walked free.
Dill: What is Atticus doing?
Jem: Atticus is showing the jury that Tom has nothing to hide.
Atticus: Were you acquainted with Mayella Violet Ewell?
Tom: Yes suh, I had to pass her place goin’ to and from the filed every day.
Atticus: Whose field?
Tom: I picks for Mr. Link Deas.
Atticus: Were you picking cotton in November?
Tom: No suh. I works in his yard fall an’ wintertime. I works steady for him all year round, he’s got a lot of pecan trees ‘n things.
Atticus: You say you had to pass the Ewell place to get to and from work. Is there any other way to go?
Tom: No suh, none’s I know of.
Atticus: Tom, did she ever speak to you?
Tom: Yes, yes suh, I’d tip m’hat when I’d go by, and one day she asked me to come inside the fence and bust up a chiffarobe for her.
Atticus: When did she ask you to chop up the—the chiffarobe?
Tom: Mr. Finch, it was last spring. I remember it because it was choppin’ time and I had my hoe with me. I said I didn’t have nothin’ but this hoe, but she said she had a hatchet. She gave me the hatchet and I broke up the chiffarobe. She said, “I reckon I’ll hafta give you a nickel, won’t I?” an’ I said, “No ma’am, there ain’t no charge.” Then I went home. Mr. Finch, that was way last spring, way over a year ago.
Atticus: Did you ever go on the place again?
Tom: Yes suh.
Tom: Well, I went lots of times.
Atticus: Under what circumstances?
Tom: Please suh?
Atticus: Why did you go inside the fence lots of time?
Tom: She’d call me in, suh. Seemed like every time I passed by yonder she’d have some little somethin’ for me to do—choppin’ kindlin’, totin’ water for her. She watered them red flowers every day.
Atticus: Were you paid for your services?
Tom: No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time, I was glad to do it. Mr. Ewell didn’t seem to help her none and neither did the chillun, and I knowed she didn’t have no nickels to spare.
Atticus: Where were the other children?
Tom: They was always around, all over the place. They’d watch me work, some of ‘em, some of ‘em’d set in the window and watch.
Atticus: Would Mayella talk to you?
Tom: Yes suh, she talked to me.
Atticus: Did you ever, at any time, go on the Ewell property—did you ever set foot on the Ewell property without an express invitation from one of them?
Tom: No suh, Mr. Finch, I never did. I wouldn’t do that, suh.
Atticus: Tom, what happened to you in the evening of November twenty-first of last year? (the courtroom draws a collective breath and leans forward)
Tom: Mr. Finch, I was goin’ home as usual that evenin’, an’ when I passed the Ewell place, Miss Mayella were on the porch, like she said she were. It seemed real quiet-like an’ I didn’t know why. I was studyin’ why, just passin’ by, when she says for me to come over there and help her a minute. Well, I went inside the fence an’ looked around for some kindlin’ to work on, but I didn’t seen none, and she says, “Naw, I got somethin’ for ya to do in the house. Th’ old door’s off its hinges an’ fall’s comin’ on pretty fast.” I says, “You got a screwdriver, Miss Mayella?” She says she sho’ had. Well, I went up the steps an’ she motioned me to come inside, and I went in the front room an’ looked at the door. I said to Mayella, “This door looks all right.” I pulled it back’n forth and those hinges was all right. Then she shut the door in my face. Mr. Finch, I was wonderin’ why it was so quiet-like an’ it come to me that there weren’t a chile on the place, not a one of ‘em, and I said, “Miss Mayella, where the chillun?” (Tom pauses and wipes his forehead.) I say, “where the chillun?” an’ she says, she was laughin’ sorta and she says they all gone to town to get ice creams. She says, “Took me slap year to save seb’m nickels, but I done it. They all gone to town.”
Atticus: What did you say then, Tom?
Tom: I said somethin’ like, “Why Miss Mayella, that’s right smart o’ you to treat ‘em.” An’ she said, “You think so?” I don’t think she understood what I was thinkin’—I meant, it was smart of her to save like that an’ nice of her to treat ‘em.
Atticus: I understand you, Tom. Go on.
Tom: Well, I said I best be goin’, I couldn’t do nothin’ for her, an’ she says, “Oh yes, I could,” and I asked her what, and she says to just step on that chair yonder an’ get that box down from on top of the chiffarobe.
Atticus: Not the same chiffarobe you busted up?
Tom: Naw suh, another one. Most as tall as the room. So I done what she told me, an’ I was just reachin’ when the next thing I knows she, she grabbed me round the legs, grabbed me round th’ legs, Mr. Finch. She scared me so bad I hopped down an’ turned the chair over—that was the only thing, only furniture, ‘sturbed in that room, Mr. Finch, when I left it. I swear ‘fore God.
Atticus: What happened after you turned the chair over? (Tom looks around the room nervously.) Tom, you’re sworn to tell the whole truth. Will you tell it? What happened after that?
Judge: Answer the question.
Tom: Mr. Finch, I got down offa that chair an’ she sort jumped on me.
Atticus: Jumped on you? Violently?
Tom: No suh, she, she hugged me. She hugged me round the waist. (The courtroom erupts. Judge bangs his gavel.)
Atticus: Then what did she do?
Tom: (swallowing hard) She reached up an’ kissed me on th’ side of th’ face. She says she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don’t count. She says, “Kiss me back, nigger.” I say, “Miss Mayella lemme outta here,” an’ tried to run, but she got her back to the door an’ I’da had to push her. I didn’t wanta harm her, Mr. Finch, an’ I say, “Lemme pass,” but just when I say it, Mr. Ewell yonder hollered through the window.
Atticus: What did he say?
Tom: (swallows hard) Somethin’ b’ not fittin’ to say—not fittin’ for these folks ‘n chillun to hear—
Atticus: What did he say, Tom? You must tell the jury what he said.
Tom: (shuts his eyes tight) He says, “You goddamn whore! I’ll kill ya!”
Atticus: Then what happened?
Tom: Mr. Finch, I was runnin’ so fast I didn’t know what happened.
Atticus: Tom, did you rape Mayella Ewell?
Tom: I did not, suh.
Atticus: Did you resist her advances?
Tom: Mr. Finch, I tried, I tried to ‘thout bein’ ugly to her. I didn’t wanta be ugly; I didn’t want to push her or nothin’.
Atticus: Tom, go back once more to Mr. Ewell. Did he say anything to you?
Tom: Not anything, suh. He mighta said somethin’ but I weren’t there—
Atticus: That’ll do. What you did hear, who was he talking to?
Tom: Mr. Finch, he were talkin’ and lookin’ at Miss Mayella.
Atticus: Then you ran?
Tom: I sure did, suh.
Atticus: Why did you run?
Tom: I was scared, suh.
Atticus: Why were you scared?
Tom: Mr. Finch, if you was a nigger like me, you’d be scared too.
Link: (Mr. Link rises from his seat.) I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’ trouble outta him. Not a speck! (Atticus hurries back to his chair.)
Judge: Shut your mouth, sir! Link Deas, if you have anything you want to say you can say it under oath and at the proper time, but until then you get out of this room, you hear me? Get out of this room, sir. I’ll be damned if I’ll listen to this case again. (Judge Taylor stares daggers at Atticus as Atticus ducks his head laughing into his lap.)
Jem: (to Scout) It ain’t like on of the jurymen got up and started talking. I think it’d be different then. Mr. Link was just disturbin’ the peace or something.
Judge: (to the court reporter) Please expunge the last comments. Go ahead Mr. Gilmer. (Gilmer approaches Tom)
Gilmer: You were given thirty days for disorderly conduct, Robinson?
Tom: Yes suh.
Gilmer: What’d the nigger look like when you got through with him?
Tom: He beat me, Mr. Gilmer.
Gilmer: Yes, but you were convicted, weren’t you?
Atticus: (raises head from his papers) It was a misdemeanor, and it’s in the record, Judge.
Judge: Witness’ll answer though.
Tom: Yes, suh, I got thirty days.
Gilmer: Robinson, you’re pretty good at busting up chiffarobes and kindling with one hand aren’t you?
Tom: Yes suh, I reckon so.
Gilmer: Strong enough to choke the breath out of a woman and sling her to the floor?
Tom: I never done that, suh?
Gilmer: But you are strong enough to?
Tom: I reckon so, suh.
Gilmer: Had your eye on her for a long time, hadn’t you, boy?
Tom: No suh, I never looked at her.
Gilmer: Then you were mighty polite to do all that chopping and hauling for her, weren’t you, boy?
Tom: I was just trying to help her out, suh.
Gilmer: That was mighty generous of you, you had chores at home after your regular work, didn’t you?
Tom: Yes suh.
Gilmer: Why didn’t you do them instead of Miss Ewell’s?
Tom: I done ‘em both, suh.
Gilmer: You must have been pretty busy. Why were you so anxious to do that woman’s chores?
Tom: Looked like she didn’t have nobody to help her, like I says.
Gilmer: With Mr. Ewell and seven children on the place, boy?
Tom: Well I says it looked like they never help her none.
Gilmer: You did all this chopping and work from sheer goodness, boy?
Tom: Tried to help her, I says.
Gilmer: You’re a might good fellow, it seems—did all this for not one penny.
Tom: Yes suh. I felt right sorry for her; she seemed to try more ‘n the rest of ‘em.
Gilmer: YOU felt sorry for HER? YOU felt SORRY for her? (Tom shifts uncomfortably in his chair) Now you sent by the house as usual, last November twenty-first, and she asked you to come in and bust up a chiffarobe?
Tom: No suh.
Gilmer: Do you deny that you went by the house?
Tom: No suh, she said she had something for me to do inside the house.
Gilmer: She says she asked you to bust up a chiffarobe, is that right?
Tom: No suh, it ain’t.
Gilmer: Then you say she’s lying, boy? (Atticus jumps to his feet, but Tom can handle the question on his own.)
Tom: No suh, I just say she’s mistaken in her mind.
Gilmer: She says she went inside to get you a nickel, did she lie about that?
Tom: No suh. She’s mistaken in her mind.
Gilmer: She says you hit her and knocked her down. Did she lie about that?
Tom: She’s just mistaken in her mind.
Gilmer: She says you then took advantage of her. Do you say she lied about that?
Tom: No suh, she’s just mistaken in her mind.
Gilmer: Didn’t Mr. Ewell run you off the place, boy?
Tom: No suh, I don’t think he did.
Gilmer: Don’t think, what do you mean?
Tom: I mean I didn’t stay long enough for him to run me off.
Gilmer: You’re very candid about this; why did you run so fast?
Tom: I says I was scared, suh.
Gilmer: If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?
Tom: Like I says before, it weren’t safe for any nigger to be in a—fix like that.
Gilmer: But you weren’t in a fix—you testified that you were resisting Miss Ewell. Were you so scared that she’d hurt you, you ran, a big buck like you?
Tom: No suh, I’s scared I’d be in court, just like I am now.
Gilmer: Scared of arrest, scared you’d havta face up to what you did?
Tom: No, scared I’s havta face up to what I didn’t do.
Gilmer: Are you being impudent to me, boy?
Tom: No suh, I didn’t go to be.
Gilmer: No more questions.
Scout: Jem, what’s going on?
Jem: We’re gonna win, Scout. I don’t see how we can’t. Atticus has made it as plain and easy as—well, as I’da explained it to you.
Scout: Did Mr. Gilmer—
Jem: Shhh! Nothing new, just the usual. Hush now.
Atticus: (giving his closing arguments) …In the absence of any corroborative evidence, this man was indicted on a capital charge and is now on trial for his life. Gentlemen, I would like to remind you that this case is not a difficult one. It requires no sifting through complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant. This case is as simple as black and white.
The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant. The defendant is not guilty, but somebody in this courtroom is.
I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man’s life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own guilt. I say guilt, gentlemen, because it was guilt that motivated her. She has committed no crime; she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with. She is a victim of cruel poverty and ignorance. However, I cannot pity her. She knew full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking, she persisted in breaking it. Now she attempts to destroy the evidence of her offense.
She was white, and she temped a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards. And now, Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses—his right hand. The witnesses for the state have presented themselves to you along with the assumption—the evil assumption—that all Negroes are basically immoral beings. I would like to remind you that Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, and there is one human institution where this must be true, and that is the court. I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty.
Dill: Looka yonder! (Calpurnia makes her way up the middle aisle, walking straight toward Atticus.)
Judge: It’s Calpurnia, isn’t it?
Cal: Yes sir. Could I pass this note to Mr. Finch, please sir? It hasn’t got anything to do with the trial. (Judge nods)
Atticus: (reads the note) Judge, my children are missing and haven’t turned up since noon. I, could you—
Underwood: I know where they are, Atticus. They’re right up yonder in the colored balcony, been there since precisely one-eighteen p.m.
Atticus: Jem, come down from there. (Jem comes down and approaches Atticus at the bench.)
Jem: (quietly to Atticus) We’ve won, haven’t we?
Atticus: I’ve no idea. You’ve been here all afternoon? Go home with Calpurnia and get your supper—and stay home.
Jem: Aw, Atticus, let us come back. Please let us hear the verdict, please sir.
Atticus: The jury might be out and back in a minute, we don’t know. Tell you what, you all can come back when you’ve eaten your supper, and if the jury’s still out, you can wait with us. But I expect it’ll be over before you get back.
Jem: You think they’ll acquit him that fast?
Atticus: (opens his mouth, but shuts it without an answer) Hurry, Jem. Do what I say.
Jem: (back in balcony) Don’t fret Reverend; we’ve won it. Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard.
Rev: Now don’t be so confident, Mr. Jem. I ain’t seen a jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man.
Jem: But Reverend, it wasn’t rape—
Rev: Mr. Jem, this ain’t a polite this for a little lady to hear.
Jem: Aw, she doesn’t know what we’re talking about. Scout, this is too old for you, ain’t it?
Scout: It most certainly is not. I know every word you’re saying.
Jem: What time is it Reverend?
Rev: Getting on toward eight.
Bailiff: All rise! (the jury and the judge enter with the verdict…read chapter 21)