Why isn't Bob Ewell worthy of receiving compassion?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several reasons why Bob Ewell isn't worthy of receiving compassion in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Throughout the novel, Bob Ewell is the most despicable citizen in Maycomb and is responsible for Tom Robinson's wrongful conviction after accusing him of assaulting and raping his daughter. During the trial, Atticus reveals that Bob Ewell is the one who beat his daughter, and Bob vows to avenge Atticus. Bob publicly spits in Atticus' face, proceeds to harass Tom's wife, Helen, and attempts to break into Judge Taylor's home. In Chapter 28, Bob does the unspeakable and attempts to murder Jem and Scout while they are walking home from Maycomb's Halloween festival. Fortunately, Boo Radley saves the children by wrestling Bob Ewell off of them and killing him with Bob's own knife during the struggle. Bob's unapologetic, vengeful attitude, coupled with his attempt to murder two innocent children are the reasons he isn't worthy of receiving compassion. Bob was not satisfied winning the case which resulted in Tom's death, and chose to harm those who opposed him during the trial. Attacking two unarmed innocent children is the epitome of immorality. Bob Ewell was malicious, depraved, and evil throughout the entire novel and deserved to die after attacking Jem and Scout.

Sal paradise | Student

Quite frankly, Bob Ewell is deemed unworthy of receiving compassion because he has lived a violent, hate-filled life. Ewell's actions and words in the novel are rude, racist, and abusive even towards his own children - it is suggested in the text that Ewell has physically abused his own daughter, Mayella and then tried to pin the abuse on Tom Robinson. Rather than confront Atticus Finch over what Ewell interpreted as a personal insult during the trial, Ewell instead attacks Finch's children, Jem and Scout. As a reader, we often have sympathy for the characters we can relate to on some level. However, Harper Lee made Ewell an unsympathetic character and when we have little sympathy (or respect) for a character it is hard to feel compassion for them.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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