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Bob Ewell's despicable attack on the Finch children is foreshadowed on several occasions by author Harper Lee during the preceding chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird.
- The first example comes on the very first page of the novel, when Scout's narration first introduces Jem's broken elbow and her comment that "the Ewells started it all."
- Atticus hints at Bob's abuse toward children in Chapter 3 when he tells Scout how the Ewell children are "crying from hunger pains." Atticus tells Scout that Bob will never change. "Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?"
- Bob's threat become more direct when he spits in Atticus' face and "told him he'd get him if it took the rest of his life." (Chapters 22-23)
- In Chapter 23, Atticus tries to calm Alexandra and the children by telling them that Bob "got it all out of his system" when he spit in Atticus' face. However, Alexandra's foreboding answer was that "I wouldn't be so sure of that... His kind'd do anything to pay off a grudge."
- According to Miss Stephanie, after Tom Robinson's death, Bob Ewell "said it made one down and about two more to go." (Chapter 25)
- Aunt Alexandra's Halloween premonition that "somebody just walked over my grave" foreshadowed the later events of the night. (Chapter 27)
- The first part of Chapter 28 hints at the evil that will follow. After the pageant, Jem and Scout turn down a ride home, deciding to make their ill-fated walk instead. "Be careful of haints," the driver warns. "It's just a little walk," Jem said.
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