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To Kill a Mockingbird

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Megan Clark

Mr. Poince

Honors English 1

20 November 2017

In the Window Sill

An anonymous person once said these valuable words, “Little things can mean a lot to people.” In fact, in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Mayella Ewell, daughter of Bob Ewell, lives up to this statement in the story. She has red geraniums that are taken care of so immaculately you would not even think they were a part of their grimy household. Even in the book, it is said that the flowers look like Miss Maudie’s, a character with an exquisite garden. The red geraniums in the window sill tell many things about Mayella and her mindset; Harper Lee also uses the true symbolism of red geraniums to describe her. These geraniums give insights to many things about her and her life. They give her a feeling of being strong and that she is hopeful in her not so good life. These geraniums also show that she is civil and unlike her impertinent family members like Bob Ewell.

Mayella Ewell is the oldest of a povertized family with a father that mentally and sexually abuses her. In the Tom Robinson trial, Tom says that Mayella told him, “What her papa do to her don’t count” (Lee 260). This shows that Mayella was sexually abused by her father. She later does not mention anything about what Bob does to her most likely showing that if Tom was right then Bob forced her to not say anything about him. Geraniums, specifically red ones, symbolize strength. This shows that Harper Lee truly did add in these for a very vulnerable person. Since Mayella is taken advantage over in the past, she used the time to care for and own these beautiful geraniums to make her feel strong. As a result of all the things she went through, she uses these flowers as a crutch for empowerment. Considering Mayella’s red geraniums do give her strength and empowerment in life, they also show a few other things about her.

In Mayella’s hectic life, the geraniums give her a feeling of having hope. During the trial Mayella is deemed as this: “... she seemed somehow fragile-looking, but when she sat facing us in the witness chair she became what she was, a thick bodied girl accustomed to strenuous labor” (Lee 239). Just the visualization of Mayella gives you an insight on what she has been through. With the strenuous labor of working all day, not going to school, and dealing with her father really makes her life not the greatest. This constant stress makes her turn to the gentle flowers to give her hope that there is still good in life and believe that everything will be fine. Mayella also does not have friends. She accuses Atticus of making fun of her when he was not. Being hostile about this, it shows that Mayella knows that it is not normal to have friends and that the geraniums are a sort of “safety blanket”. Even with everything that Mayella is going through, she still is hopeful and the red geraniums show and give her that. In Wiccan culture, red geraniums are seen as a protective flower and symbolize hope. This is a facet to why Harper Lee added these specific flowers for Mayella. All in all, the red geraniums do give Mayella hope but there is another major thing that these flowers tell us about Mayella Ewell.

Lastly, the well kept geraniums of Mayella Ewell show that she is civil and unlike her family. When Mayella steps onto the podium in court it is said that, “Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row of red geraniums in the Ewell yard” (Lee 239). This implies that Mayella is different. She tries to keep herself and everything else, like the flowers, perfect. Also, on the contrary to Bob Ewell looking “scalded” from trying to get clean the night before, Mayella seems to bathe regularly like a civilized person. The Ewell residence, as Scout describes,



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