Mayella Ewell’s Red Flowers
Caring for my flower beds and potted plants today, I couldn’t help but reminisce sadly as I pruned the plants on my porch. They are a vivid red and reminded me of the red flowers cared for by Mayella Ewell in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
The red flowers in the novel were the only beautiful things in Mayella Ewell’s life.
Mayella Ewell was the poor, ignorant girl who falsely accused Tom Robinson of taking advantage of her. Her accusation came after she tried to reach out to Tom for affection, but was politely rejected. Her rejection was especially painful because her abusive father discovered the two at just the wrong moment, and after Tom fled the scene, Bob Ewell gave Mayella a vicious beating.
Those flowers were essential to Harper Lee’s characterization of the tragic girl. When asked if Tom had any previous interactions with the girl, Tom told of times that he helped her chop fire wood or do small tasks around their home. He recollected seeing her water and care for the red flowers. They were the one bright spot in the Ewell’s dirt-swept front yard, just as Tom’s visits were probably the one bright spot in Mayella’s day. Continue reading “Mayella Ewell’s Red Flowers”
The definition of “fine folks”
Recently our school carried out the annual battery of standardized tests. My colleague and friend Nicole sent me emails, as the tests were being conducted, to check on my emotional and mental state. Testing is stressful for teachers!
Long ago I decided to not let standardized tests get me too worked up. Yes, I worry about them and fret about the results, but I do not let anxiety overwhelm me. It only adds to the duress of my students. I simply express faith in their abilities and confidence in my coverage of all necessary topics to prepare for those evaluations.
I messaged back to Nicole that I had done my best and I was going to let God and my students do the rest. Her reply brought tears to my eyes and a swelling of my heart.
Nicole told me that I fit the definition of “fine folk” because I did the best I could with what I had. I know this sounds like a derogatory statement towards my students, but it was really a literary allusion of the greatest magnitude.
Nicole and I have both taught and LOVE the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and in Chapter 13 Scout states her belief that fine folks are people who do the best they can with what they have, no matter their race, gender, or religion. Scout’s immeasurable sense of justice has always appealed to me, and the fact that Nicole believed I was living up to that level of civility was amazing to me.
Today I want to challenge others to fulfill the definition of “fine folks” in their lives. Use what you have to the fullest of your abilities and treat all those you encounter as if they too are “fine folk.”
Appreciate all that is “fine” in your world and only the best will show itself to you in each experience and encounter.
Thank you, Nicole, for believing in me. You, too, are the finest of folk!
By: Melanie A. Peters