Why does Atticus say that the law is rigid for "common folk", but is bent in certain ways for the Ewells in To Kill a Mocking Bird?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In chapter three of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus explains to Scout that  "Sometimes it's better to bend the law a little in special cases."  When Atticus says this, he is explaining to Scout that Burris Ewell, as all the Ewells, is allowed to stay home from school because to force him to go to school would be extremely difficult.  The Ewell family was allowed several privileges which other families were not because Bob Ewell, the father, spent all the money on drinking while the children were left to fend for themselves.  The townspeople of Maycomb had tacitly agreed to leave the Ewells alone, and let them live like the animals even though they were people.  To make any of the Ewell family, even Burris, follow all the rules would be more trouble than anyone was willing to pursue.

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