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In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, compare Atticus Finch and his son, Jem, to Bob...

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lkehoe | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:26 AM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, compare Atticus Finch and his son, Jem, to Bob Ewell, and his son, Burris.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:59 PM (Answer #1)

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Atticus Finch is the epitome of a stern, but kind and loving single father to Jem, and Jem's younger sister, Scout.  Atticus lost his wife when Scout was a toddler, and has worked diligently with the family cook, Cal, to raise the children to be conscientious, tolerant, and educated--like him.  Atticus is from one of Maycomb's most prominent families, but he refuses to use his family tree as a reminder of his supposed superiority in the community.  When Jem takes after Mrs. Dubose's flowers with Scout's baton, Atticus sees to it that Jem and Scout read to her every afternoon until she says they will no longer do so.  Although this is initially seen as a punishment for his transgressions, Jem comes to understand that Atticus had other reasons for forcing him to spend time with Mrs. Dubose; specifically, Atticus wanted Jem to see someone struggling with an addiction and determined to overcome it even when it didn't really matter anymore.  Jem respects his father a great deal, once telling Scout that it was important to him not to disappoint Atticus. 

At the opposite end of the parenting spectrum is the alcoholic Bob Ewell, who may or may not be aware that he has a son named Burris.  Burris shows up at school on the first day as filthy as the home he lives in, with something crawling in his hair, and once asked to leave, he departs with a comment about the teacher being a "slut", never to return.  What we know of Bob we learn from Atticus and the trial; for example, Atticus tells his own children that Ewell is allowed to hunt against the law because no one in the community would want to deprive the Ewell children of whatever little providing their father might do for them when he's not drunk.  The Ewells are at the rock bottom rung of Maycomb's social ladder--except for the blacks.  In contrast to Atticus, who is more or less at the top of Maycomb's social ladder, and refuses to discuss it, Ewell is only "better" socially than one group of people, solely because of his skin color, and he wants everyone to know it as he testifies at Tom Robinson's trial, where he mentions concern for his "property values". 

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