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How does Atticus respond when Bob Ewell spits at him and why in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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dwivsh | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 25, 2011 at 10:04 PM via web

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How does Atticus respond when Bob Ewell spits at him and why in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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hilahmarca | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:35 AM (Answer #1)

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It is important to note that along with the spit came a death threat, a barrage of insults, and an invitation to fight.  Atticus, however, refuses to step down to Bob Ewell's level.  He simply wipes the spit out of his eyes and stands there enduring Ewell's insults.  When Ewell realizes he failed to lure Atticus into a fight, he says, "too proud to fight..." to which Atticus responds, "No, too old."

The only comment Atticus oringally has about the altercation is, "I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco."  However, later the kids press him about the incident further because they fear for his life and what their life would be like without him.  He explains that Bob Ewell is not a danger.  He says Ewell meant it at the time when he said he would get Atticus, but he was just expressing his anger because Atticus had taken away the last bit of credibility the man had and, therefore, he had to have a comeback of some kind.  Atticus also said he was happy to let Ewell vent his anger on him if it would spare Mayella Ewell another beating.

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