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In To Kill A Mockingbird, how do the children react to Bob Ewell's insults?  

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smarticle20 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM via web

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, how do the children react to Bob Ewell's insults?

 

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

Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:51 PM (Answer #1)

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Jem and Scout react differently than Atticus to Bob Ewell's insults. When Bob Ewell spits in Atticus' face, Atticus calmly and humorously responds:

I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco," was all Atticus said about it.

Jem and Scout do not think Atticus is being funny:

Jem and I didn't think it entertaining.

Jem and Scout feel differently about Bob Ewell's insults. In fact, Jem and Scout tell their father that they are afraid of Bob Ewell:

We're scared for you, and we think you oughta do something about him."

At first, Jem and Scout discuss the possibility of Atticus getting a gun. Then Jem determines that Atticus getting a gun is out of the question: 

"You know he wouldn't carry a gun, Scout. He ain't even got one--2' said Jem. "You know he didn't even have one down at the jail that night. He told me havin' a gun around's an invitation to somebody to shoot you."

This comment proves that Jem and Scout are very concerned about their father's well being. Carrying a gun is a serious action, yet Jem and Scout are both wishing their father would get a gun for his own protection.

No doubt, Jem and Scout are worried that their father will be killed by Bob Ewell. They discuss the possibility of not having him around. Dill is worried that they will starve without Atticus being around:

Dill was of the opinion that an appeal to Atticus's better nature might work: after all, we would starve if Mr. Ewell killed him, besides be raised exclusively by Aunt Alexandra, and we all knew the first thing she'd do before Atticus was under the ground good would be to fire Calpurnia.

While the children discuss their fears of Bob Ewell's insults, Jem suggests that Scout could throw a fit and get her father to carry a gun. Of course, that did not work with Atticus:

Jem said it might work if I cried and flung a fit, being young and a girl. That didn't work either.

Clearly. the children are troubled. They can't eat. They are moping around the house. Atticus becomes concerned with their behavior:

But when he noticed us dragging around the neighborhood, not eating, taking little interest in our normal pursuits, Atticus discovered how deeply frightened we were.

Atticus realizes his children are living in fear of Bob Ewell and his insults. Of course, Atticus uses his wisdom to try and explain to his children why Bob Ewell is insulting and acting in a dangerous manner:

"Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand?"

Atticus assured his children that they had noting to fear:

"We don't have anything to fear from Bob Ewell, he got it all out of his system that morning."

Jem responds with assurance that everything will be alright:

After that, we were not afraid.

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