How does the following quote from the end of Chapter 29 in To Kill a Mockingbird connect with the theme of courage? "Bob Ewell meant business," Mr. Tate muttered. "He was out of his mind,"...
How does the following quote from the end of Chapter 29 in To Kill a Mockingbird connect with the theme of courage?
"Bob Ewell meant business," Mr. Tate muttered.
"He was out of his mind," said Atticus.
"Don't like to contradict you, Mr. Finch—wasn't crazy, mean as hell. Low-down skunk with enough liquor in him to make him brave enough to kill children. He'd never have met you face to face."
There is an old saying that goes something like this: "Drink your courage," or "take a shot of courage," referring to a shot of liquor. This saying implies that in a sober state someone is not nearly as brave as in a drunken state, and that is exactly the point that Heck Tate is making in this passage.
The passage implies that Bob Ewell is ordinarily a coward, but he is also a drunk, and here we see that the liquor gave him the "bravery" to go after the kids. However, even that "bravery" was limited, according to Tate. He suggests that it does not take any bravery at all to attack children. Attacking Atticus would take far more courage, and in fact he did not have enough courage to do that.
So, ultimately Bob Ewell's bravery was fake in two ways: it was only brought on by liquor and he only used it to attack children, who were already more vulnerable than him and he could overpower easily.
This section is definitely saying that Bob Ewell's courage came from alcohol. It also shows a great deal about Atticus' character. For him, to attack children means a man is insane. For Tate, it's a measure not of Ewell's sanity, but of his cowardice. He would never face a threat directly, like Atticus did when shooting the rabid dog or standing up in the courtroom. Instead, he'd strike back from behind, at those who were too weak, as he did to his daughter.