Why does Helen walk a mile out of her way to get to work in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 27, Scout recalls several events that indirectly involve her family and elaborates on how Bob Ewell proceeded to intimidate and verbally abuse Helen Robinson on her walk to work. Calpurnia tells Scout that Helen has a hard time taking care of her children while working for Link Deas because she is forced to walk a mile out of her way to avoid Bob Ewell, who "chunked at her" the first time she walked past his home. Bob Ewell is depicted as a vindictive, evil man who verbally abuses Helen Robinson on her walk to work, which is why she walks a mile out of her way instead of traveling on the public road. After Helen explains to Link Deas why she walks a mile out of her way to work, he threatens Bob Ewell. The following day, Helen walks on the public road and Bob Ewell follows close behind "crooning foul words" at her. After Helen again informs Link Deas about Bob Ewell's abusive behavior, he threatens Bob for a second time, and Ewell stops harassing her.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The scurrilous Bob Ewell wasn't satisfied with seeing Tom Robinson found guilty of a crime he did not commit, nor did Tom's death soothe his appetite for revenge. Bob began stalking Tom's wife, Helen, as she walked past the Ewell house each day. Bob "chunked at her," so Helen began taking the long way from her house on the way to work for Link Deas. Later, after a warning by Deas, Bob followed behind her "crooning foul words." Helen was "thoroughly frightened" this time, and Deas once again paid a threatening visit to Ewell, who was "leaning on a fence" outside Deas's store. When Deas threatened to report the incident to Sheriff Tate, for breaking the "Ladies' Law," Bob left Helen alone.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial