She only knew the wrath of Bob Ewell and she would rather lie and risk Tom Robinson going to jail for a crime he didn't commit than have to live with Ewell's rage.
Lynn, I always felt that she was terrified of her father, and that he was very abusive towards her. Even as a teen, when I first saw the movie (after reading the book about 10 times), I had the feeling that Ewell had done more that beat her,and was actually enraged and jealous
. Am I way off base here?
She was trying to find "normal" love, even though she knew Tom was not interested. It seemed like Ewell's rage escalated into uncontrollable fury when Tom said "I felt sorry for her". A black man feeling sorry for a white woman??? How dare he.
No, Knitty, I don't think you've got it wrong. I always thought that the book intimated that there was something unhealthy going on between Ewell and his daughter, and that other people knew about it, probably Tom among them. I've wondered if she was pregnant by her father, and trying to find someone she could claim fathered her child.
The book, I think, does deal with those "Southern Gothic fiction" elements, but softens them, through Scout's eyes, since she doesn't understand all that is happening around her until much later. I suppose that's one of the reasons that people love this movie so much, because it gives a very realistic portrait of adult life as seen through child's eyes, but without any sugar coating. In effect, it is a novel of maturation, but even the harshest aspects of the events depicted have the soft-focus of happy memory.