What does the quote "Bob Ewell meant business" mean in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Bob Ewell attacked Jem and Scout on their way home from the school pageant, Heck Tate did some investigative work.  He examined Scout's ham costume.  It was made from barbed wire, fabric, and paint.  She had worn it in the pageant that night, and she had also worn it home.  She had been wearing it when she and Jem were attacked by Bob Ewell.  Heck discovered a slice through part of the costume, which had been made with Bob Ewell's knife.  Upon examining it, Heck announced that "Bob Ewell meant business" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 29).  He said this to mean that Bob Ewell had intended to physically harm the children.  He had wanted to kill them to get back at Atticus for defending Tom Robinson.  Atticus expressed his opinion about Bob Ewell, which was that the man was insane.  Heck disagreed.  He thought that Bob Ewell's mean spirit had led him to attempt violence against the children.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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