Why are Jem and Scout worried for Atticus’s safety in Chapter 23 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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As Atticus departed the post office one day, he was confronted by Bob Ewell, who "cursed him, spat on him, and threatened to kill him." Bob then invited Atticus to fight him, calling him a "nigger-lovin' bastard." Atticus declined Bob's invitation, but Jem and Scout were rightfully worried about their father's safety, and they wondered if Atticus should not purchase a gun in order to protect himself. Atticus responded by telling them it was "Nonsense." They decided to "appeal to Atticus's better nature": Scout cried and threw a fit, and they told him they would all starve to death if he were killed, and that Calpurnia would be fired by Aunt Alexandra if he were gone. But Atticus "smiled wryly" and told Jem to try and understand Ewell's position--"to stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute." Atticus assures his family that

"We don't have anything to fear from Bob Ewell, he got it all out of his system this morning."  (Chapter 23

How wrong Atticus proved to be.


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