It would be hard to fathom two more polar opposite fathers than Atticus Finch and Robert E. Lee Ewell in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Both are single parents, but Atticus is a wonderful example: Loving, kind, concerned and generous, he gives his children the independence to think for themselves and a personal example to look up to. Bob Ewell is "the disgrace of Maycomb" who cares little for his children--he beats his daughter, Mayella--and uses what little money he has to buy alcohol. He is dirty and his children are lice-ridden. He curses constantly, and his son, Burris, follows his lead--threatening his first grade teacher on the first day of school. Atticus is an attorney and legislator--Bob is unemployed. Bob blames others for his faults and troubles, while Atticus worries that people may think badly of him if Jem does not testify following Ewell's death.
Atticus commands the respect of both friends and enemies, while it is not apparent that Bob has any friends at all. Violence is a way of life to Bob--he beats Mayella, spits on Atticus, tries to assault Judge Taylor, and threatens Helen Robinson. Atticus avoids violence at all costs, refusing to fight the drunken, smaller Ewell; trying to talk the lynch out of taking Tom Robinson from the jail; and giving up his rifle and nickname of "One-Shot Finch." Atticus is painfully honest, while Bob lies repeatedly under oath. Other than being males living in Maycomb, they have little else in common.