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Tom is an honest, God-fearing, hard-working family man while Bob Ewell is a dishonest, shiftless, jobless man who drinks up his welfare check and rarely provides for his family. Bob really can't be compared with anyone else in the novel: His family has been the "disgrace of Maycomb County for three generations," and one can only wonder what his father and grandfather must have been like. Bob stands alone as the trashiest man in town, and it is fitting that he and his family live adjacent to the dump. Bob not only causes Tom's death by the false accusations he and Mayella make against Tom, but he is willing to murder Jem and Scout to settle the score with Atticus.
Tom, meanwhile, has had only one minor run-in with the law. Despite his crippled arm, he works hard for Link Deas, who declares in court that
"That boy's worked for me eight years an' I ain't had a speck o'trouble outa him. Not a speck."
He is a member of Calpurnia's congregation at First Purchase Church, and his friends there think enough of him to take up a collection to help his wife while Tom is in jail. Scout is impressed with Tom, claiming that his "manners were as good as Atticus's."
I found myself believing him... He seemed to be a respectable Negro...
Atticus describes Tom as
"... a quiet, respectable humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to 'feel sorry' for a white woman...
It is the color of Tom's skin that works against him with the jury, who Atticus knew beforehand would not take Tom's word over that of Bob Ewell's. When compared with Bob, Tom is a finer man in every respect, but most of the people in Maycomb were unwilling to look past Tom's black skin.
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