To Kill a Mockingbird: Characters Analysis: Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson, Calpurnia

Character's Analysis: Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson, Calpurnia

By Harper LeeRelease Year: 1960

Supporting Characters

Mayella Ewell

Mayella Ewell serves as an important character in the novel. Although she looks having a minor role in the work under analysis; however, the entire story revolves around the case of her rape at the hands of Tom Robinson. Due to her family’s leading an isolated life from the outer world, she has little opportunities for developing relations with some male friend. Therefore, she sends her younger siblings out of the house and seduces Tom in the lonely house. However, her father reaches on the occasion, and not only slaps her on her right cheek but also beats her seriously.

Moreover, instead of having knowledge regarding the seduction of her daughter, Ewell blames Tom of raping Mayella. Moreover, Mayella appears to be a confused personality, who does not have much experience and exposure to social life. As a result, she is unable to reply to the simple questions asked by the defense counsel Finch. Being young and somewhat attractive girl of 19 years, she also has desires to have interaction with boys of her age; though her domestic environment keeps her away from mixing with other individuals. Instead of leading a normal happy life with family and friends, she has to perform all domestic responsibilities because of the death of her mother in early life.

Moreover, her unspeakable molestation at the hands of her own drunkard father adds to her miseries, where she depicts the image of a vulnerable woman instead of portraying the picture of a beautiful teenage girl. Her inviting a black man for developing sexual relationships with her shows her courage, though she is unable to confess the same in the court of law. Since Mayella has not obtained any formal education, she looks unable to understand the meaning of the questions raised by Finch in the court. Hence, domestic violence and incestuous molestation have caused her distress and turmoil.   

Tom Robinson

Tom Robinson - the mockingbird - serves as one of the major characters in the novel. Being a member of a black community, and belonging to labor class of society, he becomes the victim of racial discrimination because of the prejudice demonstrated by the white jury while deciding the rape case against him. It is actually Tom, who has been symbolically depicted to be the Mockingbird by Lee as per the title of the novel. Tom is seen physically disabled in the sense that his left arm is crippled and hence does not work.

The defense counsel Atticus Finch takes the same stance in defense of Tom, where he maintains that since the rape victim Mayella has marks of torture on the right side of her face, which can be inflicted only by a left-handed person instead of Tom. Despite the fact that Tom’s life is saved by Finch by protecting him from lynching by an angry white mob, the defense counsel turns out to be unable to save him from the conviction. Tom is sentenced and then shot dead in prison while attempting to escape from the prison.            


Calpurnia serves as the caretaker and cook of the Finch family, where she looks after the children as well as performs all domestic chores. As a member of the black community, she is in a position of making the children understand the challenges faced by the minority racial group of the US society. Not only this that Calpurnia is respected by the children and Finch, but also she is considered as the member of their family. The children also learn discipline because of her strictness and punctuality.

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