In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some of Bob Ewell's quotes directed towards the Finch family that depict his evil personality?   

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

During the trial, Bob Ewell is kept firmly in place by the presence of Judge Taylor, who instructs him to "keep [his] testimony within the confines of Christian English usage, if that is possible." He doesn't get much opportunity to threaten the Finch family there.

Although the Ewells are successful in sending Tom Robinson to jail without any cause, Bob Ewell is not happy with the outcome because Atticus, through his unwavering perseverance for justice, has shown that the Ewells are lying.

Not long after the trial, Miss Stephanie is a bit too excited to share with the Finch children that Bob Ewell has stopped their father on the street, spit in his face, and threatened revenge "if it took the rest of his life." Although the reader receives this information indirectly, it seems to be accurate because the children go straight to Atticus to ask him about it. Atticus tells them that this is true and that he believes Bob Ewell meant what he'd said. However, Atticus says that if he has saved Mayella from a beating by taking some of Bob's venom, he is glad to take it. The contrast between Atticus and Bob is striking here.

The full portrait of Bob's evil lies in the fact that he follows through on his threats. While he doesn't come after Atticus directly, he does try to murder his children. Atticus believed Bob's evil threats but likely thought Bob's evil revenge would be directed at him—not at his innocent children.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The only member of the Finch family that Bob threatens is Atticus. In Chapter 23, Stephanie Crawford tells the story of how Bob Ewell spat in Atticus' face and threatened him. As Atticus is leaving the post office, Bob Ewell stops him and begins cursing at him. Bob then spits in Atticus' face and threatens to kill him. Atticus remains calm as Bob continues to call him derogatory names and tries to intimidate him. Bob then asks Atticus if he is trying to fight and calls him a "nigger-lovin' bastard" (Lee 134). Atticus tells Bob that he is too old to fight and simply walks away. Following the incident, Jem and Scout begin to fear for their father's safety, but Atticus assures them that Bob Ewell got all of his hate out that day at the post office. Although Bob does not threaten Atticus' children, he does attempt to murder them towards the end of the novel.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Bob Ewell made only one specific threat against Atticus following the Tom Robinson trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. Shortly after the trial, Bob confronted Atticus outside the post office and spat in his face. According to Miss Stephanie Crawford, who witnessed the encounter, Bob also "threatened to kill him (Atticus)." He also called Atticus "'a nigger-lovin' bastard'" and other "names wild horses could not bring her to repeat." In October, Bob "acquired and lost a job in a matter of days"; Ruth Jones, "the welfare lady, said Mr. Ewell openly accused Atticus of getting his job," and indirectly called him a "bastard."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial