How is the contrast between Atticus and Bob Ewell presented in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch and Bob Ewell are contrasted. Atticus is a man of integrity. He has character and self discipline. Atticus is a devoted father to his children. He raises his children to be respected members of the community. Atticus trains his children to be honest. He teaches his children to be respectful of all people. Atticus is an excellent role model for his children and the community.

Bob Ewell is a liar. He has no integrity. He abuses his daughter Mayella. He not only lies but he encourages or insists that Mayella lie as well. Bob Ewell is a drunk who waste his money on alcohol. He has no morals. He is disrespected by all in the community.

In chapter 23, Bob Ewell spits in Atticus' face. Atticus proves to be the better man by not retaliating. Atticus walks away from a confrontation with Bob Ewell. Atticus is honorable in all his intentions. Bob Ewell is a lying coward who blames his own violent behavior toward his daughter Mayella on an innocent man named Tom Robinson.   

Truly, Atticus responds to Bob Ewell's threats with grace and dignity:

Once again the Ewells prove how dangerous ignorance can be. Their prejudice is sweeping, they “hate and despise the colored folk.” And now they feel the same about Atticus for making them appear foolish. Bob Ewell responds by making crude and raving threats to Atticus, which Atticus receives with his usual grace and gentility.

Again, this proves that Atticus has respect and character while Bob Ewell is disgusting and even dangerous in his ignorance. 


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