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Who is Burris Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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nemo09 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 4, 2009 at 5:35 AM via web

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Who is Burris Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted May 4, 2009 at 6:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Burris Ewell makes his appearance in Chapter 3, when a louse crawls off his head and horrifies Miss Caroline, his teacher. Scout observes that "he was the filthiest human being I had ever seen (26-27).  He is clearly illiterate because he cannot spell his own name.  Miss Caroline tries to send him home to bathe and get rid of his lice, but he does not plan on coming back to school anyhow.  The children explain that the Ewells only show up for the first day of school because the truant officer forces them to.  But that is the only time they appear.  When Miss Caroline decides to try to make Burris stay, he leaves, yellling insults at her on his way out, finally making her cry.  The other children console her. 

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tennimis98 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM (Answer #2)

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Son of Bob Ewell. He is very poor and is one of the filthiest humans in Maycomb. Only comes to school on th first day.

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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 18, 2014 at 6:48 PM (Answer #3)

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In Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbirg, Burris Ewell is the son Bob Ewell and, like the rest of his family, is somewhat lacking in the finer points of personal hygiene.  He is first introduced to the reader in Chapter Three, when his and Scout's teacher, Miss Caroline, suggests he go home and clean up.  Scout, the novel's narrator, describes Burris, and the scene in the classroom, as follows:

The boy stood up. He was the filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark gray, the backs of his hands were rusty, and his fingernails were black deep into the quick. He peered at Miss Caroline from a fist-sized clean space on his face. No one had noticed him, probably, because Miss Caroline and I had entertained the class most of the morning.
“And Burris,” said Miss Caroline, “please bathe yourself before you come back
tomorrow.”
The boy laughed rudely. “You ain’t sendin‘ me home, missus. I was on the verge of leavin’—I done done my time for this year.”
Miss Caroline looked puzzled. “What do you mean by that?”
The boy did not answer. He gave a short contemptuous snort.

Burris is not only representative of his family in terms of hygiene, but also in terms of disregard for authority and primitiveness in his world outlook.  His father, of course, is the town's leading racist and slob.

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