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Thesis: While Mayella’s social status and gender certainly m

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Jesus Espinoza

on 6 April 2015

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Transcript of Thesis: While Mayella’s social status and gender certainly m

Thesis: While Mayella’s social status and gender certainly make her less powerful than most, her skin color makes her a far more powerful person than most Negro’s
Mayella's social status makes her pretty far from powerful, since those who are poor are viewed as trash and unimportant. In fact, it is a wonder that her trial even made it to court, considering how lowly she is thought of. An example showing just how poor Mayella actually is would be, “Maycomb's Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what once a negro cabin.”(170) Their economic standing is so low that they have to live in a an old slave cabin. They cant even afford a real house, much less the trust and respect of the other members of their community. The best they get is pity, which isn't something that makes you powerful in any important way. However, even though the Cunninghams are also poor, they are not seen as shameful as the Ewells due to the fact that they actually work, while the Ewells are widely regarded as free loaders. This is made evident when,”Atticus said that the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for 3 generations. None of them had done an honest days work in his recollection.” It is made evident just how big leeches the Ewells really are to their community. They don't do anything to improve their social status, simply because of how lazy they are. That just goes to show that they are perfectly fine with their current situation, which absolutlety repulses the population of Maycomb. Due to this utter disdain for her family, Mayella is far from powerful from her social status.
Another characteristic of Mayella that makes her less powerful than most, is her gender, since most people of her time considered female's to be unintelligent, frail, and not as dependable as a man. A perfect example of these stereotypes being employed would be, “I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so...”(54 Lee) It could not be said more plainly. Jem said straight forward all the things that he believes is wrong with “Girls”, and he thinks that the rest of society agrees with him, which they do to a certain extent. It was commonly agreed at this point in time that women were exceptionally more incompetent than men. They were thought of as childish and silly, and as such were believed to be prone to being dishonest, which puts Mayella at a disadvantage against Tom Robinson, because even though he is black, he is also a man. Also, from the text it is obvious that men were viewed as more respectable than women. This can be seen when Atticus says, “Don't pay any attention to her, just hold your head high and be a gentleman” Being a gentleman seems to hold more honour than being a lady. Atticus doesn't even consider that since Scout isn't male, it may be a little hard for her to act like a gentleman. Since Mayella is also a woman, the jury who decide whether or not she is telling the truth doesn't take her as seriously as they would a man, since she is not viewed to be as respectable as a man is.
However, even though Mayella is poor and a woman, her race makes her much more powerful than Tom, since he is a Negro. For example, Mr. Ewell says,” I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella”.(231 Lee) He manages to make Tom’s race evident, since he uses the redundant repetitive phrase “Black Nigger” as if you don’t have to be black in order to be a nigger. He also portrays Tom as an animal and/or beast by saying “ruttin’”, commonly reserved for beasts, not human beings. And, he also manages to reinstitute his power over Mayella, referring to her as “My Mayella”, acting as if she is his property.
Mayella's race makes her word be considered more trustworthy than that of a colored man "There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn't be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. They're ugly, but those are the facts of life.” Even Atticus himself admits to the inequalities a Negro has to face compared to a white person. He doesnt try to sugar coat it, he just says it bluntly since those are the “facts of life”. He simplifies it to the point where a child would understand, in order to make it clear who the “bad” people are, and who the “victims” are. This way he leans the jury in his favor, even if only by a little.
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