What do Bob Ewell's actions reveal about his character when he tries to kill Jem and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bob Ewell's despicable actions of trying to kill Jem and Scout indicate what a degenerate he really is.

There is nothing more morally reprehensible than actions like those of Bob Ewell, a man who attempts to fatally injure the children of Atticus Finch simply because during the trial, in his attempts to get to the truth, Atticus has interrogated him carefully, causing Ewell's poor character to become public. With his incisive questions, Atticus has exposed the ignorance and reprehensible behavior of this backward man. Since Bob blames Atticus for his embarrassment, his vindictive nature leads him to seek retaliation.

When he spits in the face of Atticus Finch at the courthouse, Ewell demonstrates what a petty and small man he is. Also, he harrasses Helen Robinson, the wife Tom Robinson, having "chunked" at her [thrown things at her] when she has walked past his shack as though she has done something to him, rather than his having given false testimony against Tom, testimony which sent this innocent man to prison, and eventually to his death. Cruelly, all that Bob Ewell says about Tom's death is "one down and about two more to go."

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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