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Burris Ewell arrives in the story as the newest thorn in Miss Caroline's side. She sees lice on Burris and becomes hysterical. She attempts to give him directions on how to get rid of the vermin, but he doesn't understand. Little Chuck Little tries to smooth things out, but when Miss Caroline asks Burris to sit down, he becomes angry. She tries to talk to him, but Little Chuck Little tells her to “Let him go ma’am. . . . He’s a mean one. . . . and there’s some little folks here.” Scout describes how Little Chuck Little threatens Burris with “I’d soon’s kill you as look at you. Now go home.” Burris does leave, but not before letting Miss Caroline know that she has no control over him, & calling her a slut.
Burris is a member of Ewell family who will play so prominently later in the novel. His personality foreshadows what the family will experience with his father during the trial.He only shows up on the first day of school, & the truant officer does nothing to get him or any other Ewell to come back. The society of the town also overlooks the Ewell's hunting out of season; Atticus asks Scout if it would be better for the Ewell children to go hungry by enforcing the laws. In the same way, the town turns a blind eye to the education issue. The Ewells are left entirely to their own devices on the outskirts of town. Atticus uses this situation as a teaching moment for Scout, encouraging her to walk around in someone else's skin, to understand something from someone else's point of view.
Burris Ewell is a character in the book that allows reader their first glimpse into the Ewell family. After witnessing Burris' awful behavior in school, one can only wonder what his home life is like, and readers soon find out in the trial scene.
Burris is representative or symbolic of the lowest of the low, the bottom of the food chain in terms of social class. His family lives of welfare, there are 7 kids running amok in and around their disgusting abode by the town dump.
Burris Ewell sets the scene for the audience to disbelieve anything his father says and does and also illustrates the idea that even those considered 'white trash', those that are the lowliest of lows in society, still had more rights and credibility in the eyes of the jury than a man that was black.
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