Compare and contrast Burris Ewell and Little Chuck Little in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout's two first-grade classmates are polar opposites when it comes to behavior in the classroom. Burris, the son of Bob Ewell, appears to have not fallen far from the hereditary tree. He comes to school filthy and lice-ridden before cursing and threatening the teacher, Miss Caroline. Little Chuck Little (one of the best names in the novel) comes from a family nearly as poor as the Ewells. He

... was another member of the population who didn't know where his next meal was coming from...

But he is nothing like Burris. Scout obviously thinks highly of the little boy, who

... was among the most diminutive of men... but he was a born gentleman.

When Miss Caroline discovers Burris's lice--her first experience with the creatures--Little Chuck tries to calm her, bringing her a cup of water and warning her not to antagonize Burris. When Burris threatens the teacher,

     Little Chuck Little got to his feet...
when Burris Ewell turned toward him, Little Chuck's right hand went to his pocket. "Watch your step, Burris," he said. "I'd soon's kill you as look at you..."
     Burris seemed to be afraid of a child half his height...

After backing down from Little Chuck and the knife hidden in his pocket, Burris called Miss Caroline a "snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher," and then he "waited until he was sure she was crying" before heading home. Little Chuck then joined the rest of the class in trying to comfort their shaken teacher.

Though the two boys come from a background of poverty, Little Chuck is a gallant young man, tiny in size but mighty in manners, chivalric notions, and possessing a "patience with all living things..." Burris, meanwhile, is as lowly as his father, and author Harper Lee chooses an appropriate creature to symbolize him: the louse.

gamerboy7991 | Student

Burris Ewell comes to school all filthy looking. He threatens the teacher and calls her names. Meanwhile, Little Chuck Little is a "gentlemen" who is very polite and trys to cheer up everybody. Scout really likes how Little Chuck Little acts.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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