What do the children think about Bob Ewell, Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson and Heck Tate?

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The children believe that Bob Ewell is an evil, despicable man, who is a notorious alcoholic with a terrible reputation. When Bob Ewell takes the witness stand, Scout recalls passing his dilapidated home and hearing rumors about his wicked lifestyle. During Bob's testimony, he demonstrates his rude, arrogant personality and comes across as ignorant and dishonest. Following the trial, Bob physically threatens Atticus and the children fear for their father's safety. Scout says,

Jem said it might work if I cried and flung a fit, being young and a girl. That didn’t work either. But when he noticed us dragging around the neighborhood, not eating, taking little interest in our normal pursuits, Atticus discovered how deeply frightened we were (Lee, 222).

During the Tom Robinson trial, Mayella Ewell takes the witness stand and Atticus asks her relevant questions to paint a picture of her sad, abusive home life. Scout listens as Mayella admits that she does not have any friends and gives the impression that she suffers under her father's tyranny. As Scout listens to Tom's testimony, she mentions that she feels sorry for Mayella and says,

. . . Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years (Lee, 195).

Despite Mayella's sad home life, she lies on the witness stand, which demonstrates her dishonest, malevolent personality.

Heck Tate is the local sheriff and Atticus's close friend, who also takes the witness stand during the Tom Robinson trial. When Scout finally sees him without his uniform on, she mentions,

From that moment he ceased to terrify me (Lee, 168).

Given Scout's comment and Heck Tate's close relationship with Atticus, one can surmise that the children fear but respect Sheriff Tate. As an authority figure, the children are uncomfortable around him. However, they are glad Heck Tate is good friends with Atticus and view him as an honest, trustworthy man.

The children view Tom Robinson with sympathy and believe that he is an innocent, compassionate man. They trust their father's judgment of Tom Robinson and support him during the trial. The fact that the children sit in the Negro balcony and hope for his acquittal reveals that they believe he is innocent. Tragically, the children witness Tom become a victim of racial injustice and lose their childhood innocence. Later on, Scout understands the meaning of her father's earlier lesson and views Tom as a symbolic mockingbird.

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