Essay On Bob Ewell’s Character Analysis
Bob Ewell is one of the major character in Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird. This paper would like to analyze the character of Bob Ewell and how he was portrayed in the novel. The Ewells were, evidently, a dysfunctional family. Bob Ewell, for instance, was a known drunk, but because he and his daughter are White while the accused was a black man, the predominantly white society of the fictional Maycomb County in Alabama became overly biased towards the case. The accused has already lost the battle of public opinion based solely on his ethnicity and those who challenge this popular opinion find themselves intimidated and even harassed. On the other hand, some characters, especially Bob Ewell, skipped scrutiny despite being dysfunctional. As stated in the novel, “In certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming blind to some of the Ewells’ activities” (Lee). Nevertheless, there are certain character traits of Bob Ewell, which suggests that he is a racist, ambitionless and disrespectful individual.
Bob Ewell as a Racist
There are certain circumstances mentioned in the novel, which proves that Bob Ewell is, indeed, a racist. The Ewells, for instance, believe that they are “members of an exclusive society”. This type of thinking and self-perspective evidently shows that Bob considers himself and his family as high-class, which may affect his toleration of people that he considers as low-class. In one of his altercation with Atticus, for instance, Bob Ewell accused Atticus of being a ‘nigger-lovin bastard’. The word ‘nigger’ is a racial slur and is considered by most African Americans as very offensive. As observed by experts, “The word, nigger, carries with it much of the hatred and disgust directed toward Black Africans and African Americans”. Regardless of who is saying it or how it is being said, the word ‘nigger’ is always understood as being derogative and as a “principal term of White racism”. Unless one is a racist, the word ‘nigger’ is never used to address a black person. In fact, most people avoid this word regardless of the circumstances in order to avoid being tagged as one. Bob, on the other hand, has no inhibitions in using such words towards blacks.
A Man with No Ambition
Aside from being a racist, Bob Ewell is apparently a man with no ambition. For the same reason, he and his family is considered as one of Maycomb’s poorest families. The Ewells, for instance, have a reputation of being uninterested in education. Most often, members of the Ewell family would skip school, which only shows that they have little regard to education and consequently their future. Another scenario which proves that Bob Ewell is a man without ambition is his being unemployed despite the fact that he is still physically able. Instead of finding himself a job, he opts to live on welfare. He also seems to be unaffected by having to live on welfare; in fact, he seems to enjoy having to do nothing. During the trial, for instance, Bob was asked by Atticus whether he can write, he responded “I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks?”. Bob’s response seems to suggest that he is not ashamed of being under relief. Most people would feel embarrassed about being under relief and if given a chance, would grab any opportunity that would alleviate their way of living, but not for Bob Ewell. Despite the fact that “their relief check was far from enough to feed the family,” there is also a “strong suspicion that Papa drank it up anyway”. Bob’s attitude does not even suggest that he wishes to take his family out of poverty as what any average father would aspire. But instead, he is contented with living off of relief while staying in the poorest living quarters in the county.
Bob Ewell As Being Disrespectful
Being a racist and an uneducated person, it follows that Bob also lacks respect towards other people. Aside from being fond of saying racial slurs, Bob has low regard for order and decorum. During the trial, for instance, when asked whether he was the father of Mayella Ewell, Bob responded nonchalantly saying “Well, if I ain’t I can’t do nothing about it now, her ma’s dead”. Even the less education person would know that he should show proper decorum and answer the question with candor, especially during occasions that calls for formality, such as inside the courtroom. But that is not the case with Bob Ewell, though. Instead of answering questions directly and respectfully, Bob Ewell used slang and profane languages that even the judge reprimanded him of his behavior. In one instance inside the courtroom, the judge told Bob Ewell to keep his testimony “within the confines of Christian English usage, if that is possible”. Another circumstance that proved Bob Ewell’s disrespectful behavior was when he spat in the face of Atticus. It should be noted that Atticus was only doing his job as a defense attorney and Bob ought to know and understand Atticus’s position and where he is coming from.
Based on the story, it could not be denied that Bob Ewell’s negative demeanor includes being racist, lazy or without ambition and being disrespectful. Despite the fact that most people in the county favor him because of his being White, his attitude and behavior is undeniably undesirable. As the story progresses, it becomes evident that Bob Ewell is a person with little or no credibility. Undeniably, Bob Ewell is a close characterization of the uneducated, poverty stricken Whites in the South who remained socially and culturally backwards.
African American Registry. Nigger (the word), A Brief History. 2013. January 2016 <http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/nigger-word-brief-history>.
Lee, H. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960. January 2016 <http://www.edmondschools.net/portals/3/docs/sue%20newman/tkam%20text/to_kill_a_mockingbird_text.pdf>.