How is the frustration of Bob Ewell played out in To Kill a Mockingbird?

1 Answer | Add Yours

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Bob Ewell seems to revel in the perceived celebrity status that surrounds him during the trial of Tom Robinson. Scout sees at once that Bob is "showing off" once he takes the witness stand with his "purposeful half-grin," but his smirk turns to anger after Atticus embarrasses him. Even though Tom Robinson is found guilty of raping Mayella, Bob does not find his lowly position as the "disgrace of Maycomb for three generations" unchanged following the trial. He believes that Atticus has discredited him as well as Mayella, and Bob's only recourse is to seek revenge against those who have wronged him. Bob takes aim at Atticus as well as Judge Taylor and Tom's widow, Helen. He unsuccessfully tries to badger Atticus into a public fight and then blames Atticus when Bob is fired from his WPA job. Bob stalks Helen, "crooning foul words" at her when she passes by the Ewell house. Bob attempts to break into Judge Taylor's house but cowardly runs away when the judge returns with a gun. Tom's death apparently has no effect on Bob, who believes that he can only be satisfied by getting even with Atticus. Bob attempts to make good his promise to "get him if it took the rest of his life," but even Atticus never believes that Bob would resort to attacking his children. Bob's frustration reaches the breaking point when he decides that harming--and probably killing--Jem and Scout on Halloween is the only way he can make good his threat to get even with Atticus. Bob probably would have succeeded had it not been for another Maycomb outcast--Boo Radley--who comes to the children's rescue and " 'does this town a great service' " by killing Bob.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,914 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question