What is Bob Ewell's relationship like with his children, especially Mayella Ewell and how does it contrast to Atticus's relationship with his family?Plaese provide some quotes to support your point.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The relationship Bob Ewell has with his children could not be more different than the one Atticus Finch has with his.  Bob Ewell neglects his children, and abuses them.  Atticus explains to Scout that Bob Ewell will never change his ways.  He hunts and traps out of season.

“It’s against the law, all right,” said my father, “and it’s certainly bad, but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains. I don’t know of any landowner around here who begrudges those children any game their father can hit.” (ch 3)

It’s clear from Mayella’s description of her home life that Ewell regularly beats his children, yet Atticus has never even spanked Scout and Jem.

It seemed that Atticus threatened us every other day. “You mean he’s never caught you at anything.” (ch 6)

The children assume it’s because they have never been caught, but the reader understands that it is because Atticus treats his children with respect.  He explains this to Uncle Jack after Jack spanks Scout for swearing and fighting with her cousin.

“Atticus, you’ve never laid a hand on her.”

“I admit that. So far I’ve been able to get by with threats. Jack, she minds me as well as she can. Doesn’t come up to scratch half the time, but she tries.” (Ch 9)

Ewell sees his children as a burden, and one he does not consider important.  He worries about his own needs before theirs and leaves Mayella to raise them.  Atticus, on the other hand, worries about giving his children the best moral code and setting a good example for them.


Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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