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In Chapter 3, Atticus explains to Scout that "the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations" and that "none of them had done an honest day's work in his recollection." Atticus promises to take Scout to see the Ewell house one day to show her that "they lived like animals." Though public education was provided, the Ewells chose not to accept it. But Atticus adds that it "...'would be silly to force people like the Ewells into a new environment'..." for they were members of their own society--a society of Ewells. The Ewells broke the law regularly, but that was the Ewell way, and the people of Maycomb usually cast a blind eye at their activities. Like their home, which was on the wrong side of the tracks, they lived a life apart from the rest of the decent people of Maycomb.
When Scout starts school, we get our first look at the Ewells. Atticus always tries to see the best in people, and teaches his children the same thing, however when it comes to the Ewells, there isn't much good to see. Atticus tells Scout that he has never seen a Ewell do an honest days work in his life, and they live in the they live in their own society, a society of Ewells. Of all the people in town, the Ewells are by far the most talked about and looked down upon. They are looked down upon, because of the way they live and treat others. They are not the type of people that you would welcome with open arms.
Harper Lee introduces us to the Ewells first from Scout's point of view. We see her experience with the Ewell children at school, and when she says something to Atticus, we get a more in depth view on the family. At the beginning of the story we realize that the Ewells are not a good family, but we aren't aware of just how bad they are. Lee uses the eyes of a child to introduce this family to us.
Of course, we learn later in the book, exactly what this family is capable of doing. We see Scout having problems at school with the Ewells and asking some really tough but real questions on why this family is the way it is. We learn, through Atticus, that the town just turns a blind eye to the way the Ewells do things. However, Atticus can't turn a blind eye when justice needs to be served, and Jem and Scout, will learn exactly how rough this family can be.
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