Mayella Violet Ewell, 19, is the oldest of the eight Ewell children. Before the trial, Mayella is noted for growing red geraniums outside her otherwise dirty home in order to bring some beauty into her life. Due to her family's living situation, Mayella has no opportunity for human contact or love. She eventually gets so desperate that she attempts to seduce a black man, Tom Robinson, by saving up nickels to send the children that play nearby to go get ice cream so that Mayella can be alone with Tom. Her father sees this through a window and in punishment he beats her. Ewell then finds the sheriff, Heck Tate , and tells him that his daughter has been raped and beaten by Tom. At the trial, Atticus points out that only the right side of Mayella's face is injured, suggesting a left-handed assailant; Tom's left arm is mangled and useless, but Bob Ewell is left-handed. When Atticus asks her if she has any friends, she becomes confused because she does not know what a friend is. During her testimony she is confused by Atticus' polite speech and thinks that his use of "Miss Mayella" is meant to mock her. She testifies against Tom Robinson. Mayella is played by Collin Wilcox in the film.
Writing about Lee's style and use of humor in a tragic story, scholar Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin states: "Laughter ... [exposes] the gangrene under the beautiful surface but also by demeaning it; one can hardly ... be controlled by what one is able to laugh at."  Scout's precocious observations about her neighbors and behavior inspired National Endowment of the Arts director David Kipen to call her "hysterically funny".  To address complex issues, however, Tavernier-Courbin notes that Lee uses parody , satire , and irony effectively by using a child's perspective. After Dill promises to marry her, then spends too much time with Jem, Scout reasons the best way to get him to pay attention to her is to beat him up, which she does several times.  Scout's first day in school is a satirical treatment of education; her teacher says she must undo the damage Atticus has wrought in teaching her to read and write, and forbids Atticus from teaching her further.  Lee treats the most unfunny situations with irony, however, as Jem and Scout try to understand how Maycomb embraces racism and still tries sincerely to remain a decent society. Satire and irony are used to such an extent that Tavernier-Courbin suggests one interpretation for the book's title: Lee is doing the mocking—of education, the justice system, and her own society—by using them as subjects of her humorous disapproval. 
Copyright © Harper Lee 2016. All rights reserved.
She spent eight years working odd jobs before she finally showed a manuscript to Tay Hohoff, an editor at . Lippincott. At this point, it still resembled a string of stories more than the novel that Lee had intended. Under Hohoff's guidance, the perspective was changed to Scout as a child, and two and a half years of rewriting followed. When the novel was finally ready for publication, the author opted for the name "Harper Lee" on the cover, because she didn't want to be misidentified as "Nellie."
SparkNotes: To Kill a Mockingbird . Contents: Context; Plot Overview; Character List; Analysis of Major Characters; Themes, Motifs & Symbols (Chapters 1-31); Important Quotations Explained, Key Facts, Study Questions & Essay Topics, Quiz, Suggestions for Further Reading.
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To Kill a Mockingbird (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)