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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how would Mr.Gilmer respond to Bob Ewell's death?Preferably...

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cranberry321 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how would Mr.Gilmer respond to Bob Ewell's death?

Preferably a monologue/speech in Mr.Gilmer's perspective.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 28, 2012 at 4:06 AM (Answer #1)

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While we Enotes editors do not compose assignments for students, we are certainly glad to offer suggestions to assist in the writing process.

So, in considering Mr. Gilmer's response to the death of Bob Ewell, you may wish to re-examine the characteristics of the prosecutor in Tom Robinson's trial.  One salient characteristic of Mr. Gilmer seems to be his complacency with the "status quo" of Maycomb.  While he has supported the Ewells in their claims by prosecuting Tom, more than anything else, Gilmer has made efforts to win in maintaining Jim Crow and the customary social arrangements of Maycomb in which Negroes "know their place."

Therefore, it seems in character that Mr. Gilmer would not be too concerned about the death of "some white trash" as Bob Ewell, for in truth he does not harbor any sympathies for Ewell since he is from Abbottsville and not Maycomb.  Still, he may feel some guilt since he has been involved in passively supporting Ewell's hatred of Atticus Finch as the opposing side in the Robinson's trial. 

Perhaps, then, Mr. Gilmer's monologue can have a touch of a Hamlet-like inner conflict in which his feelings are somewhat ambivalent.  While he has felt little sympathy for Bob Ewell as he simply has tried to perform his job as prosecutor and win his case, he would most likely also feel great sympathy for a fellow lawyer and his family. For, Scout has told the reader that Mr. Gilmer simply has performed his duty as a prosecutor in the trial.  In Chapter 17, Scout narrates that after Mr. Gilmer first sees Bob Ewell and asks his name,

Mr. Gilmer's back stiffened a little, and I felt sorry for him.  Perhaps I'd better explain something now.  I've heard that lawyers' children, on seeing their parents in court in the heat of argument, get the wrong idea; they think opposing counsel to be the personal enemies of their parents, they suffer agonies, and are surprised to see them often go out arm-in-arm with their tormenters during the first recess....Mr. Gilmer was doing his job, as Atticus was doing his.

This is what may be considered in the writing of Gilmer's speech:

Mr. Gilmer may, then, regret that Bob Ewell has felt empowered by believing that he has won a victory against Atticus and vengeful because he has perceived the prosecutor as having allowed Atticus to insult him.  On the other hand, he certainly would feel great sympathy for the Finch family's traumatic experience.  But, it is doubtful that he would feel any regrets about Ewell's death; more than likely, he would feel it is poetic justice.

Good luck!

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