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Compare Atticus and Bob Ewell as Single Parents

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Atticus and Bob Ewell throughout the novel in ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ are completely different characters. They have opposites roles in the way that they live in the community, their behaviour towards other people, but the most predominant is the way in which they raise their children.

Atticus has a lot of respect for children; he wants his own children to be educated, and to be brought up in a good world where there is no racism. On the other hand Bob Ewell has no standards for his children, allowing them to play truant, having no basic hygiene or safety rules.

Atticus also has a lot of respect for even the youngest of children. This becomes apparent when Atticus went to the Robinson’s house to inform Helen, Tom’s wife that he had died. Helen’s youngest child came to the door, and Atticus took off his hat and gave the girl his finger, as she was too small to navigate the stairs on her own. This paragraph portrays Atticus to be a friendly character that young children warm to. Similarly, when Scout has her first day at school, and she has a fight and an argument with the teacher about her reading, she is told she cannot read with Atticus anymore, thus making her not wishing to go back to school. It is when Atticus talks to Scout about this that he is able to make her feel better and compromises with Scout that if she continues going to school, they can still read together. Atticus wants Scout to keep on reading because he knows that she enjoys it, and it makes her happy. It is as though he can see himself in Scout.

Jem and Scout have a lot of reasons to look up to Atticus as a role model, as he is a respected member of the Maycomb community, he is polite to everyone, and does not gamble. Atticus is even polite to people who have been rude to him and his family, from when Mrs Dubose said,

“Your father’s no better then the niggers and trash he works for!” (Chapter 11)

Before that Atticus even said,

“Good evening, Mrs Dubose! You look like a picture this evening.” (Chapter 11)

Atticus is teaching his children to be polite and if you are nice to people then the favour would be returned, and not to have enemies. That’s why Atticus does not want Scout to be in any more fights, and now she realises this, and stops fighting. That’s why Atticus has never used violence towards Jem or Scout in any way. However his children have been upset with Atticus, for example Atticus, when playing football with Jem, never made any tackles, Jem and Scout saw Atticus as quite boring. This was also amplified because he was a lawyer and worked in an office, whereas their friend’s fathers drove dump trucks, were sheriffs or worked in garages, which appeared more exciting towards the children.

Calpurnia plays a big role in the novel, which involves Atticus and his children. As Atticus does not believe in racism, Calpurnia is not just the cook, but she is allowed to take complete care of Jem and Scout. From allowing this Atticus is making Jem and Scout to grow up and to not be racist, and to also respect everybody.

When the mad dog appears the children then see Atticus in a different way, they see him use violence, by shooting the mad dog. Atticus didn’t want to shoot it, but he knew that he had the best shot in the area, and that the dog was a threat. The children realise that this act of violence was necessary, otherwise the dog may have caused more problems, and they were proud of their father. This could have been something for Jem and Scout to boast about, but they didn’t because they knew that their father did not have anything to prove and that he was a true gentleman. If Atticus’s children had been naughty in any way, he would find a way of dealing with the problem, instead of resolving to violence.

The attitude of Bob Ewell as a father was to send his children to school on the first day every year and then allow them to play truant for the rest of the school year. He shows no interest in his son, Burris’ welfare whatsoever. It is apparent that Bob Ewell is not bothered as to how his son dresses for school, or even what happens to him there. His son’s cleanliness and hygiene is obviously not a priority and he has certainly not taught him any manners. Scout describes Burris Ewell as,

“The filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark grey, the back of his hands were rusty, and his finger-nails were black deep into the quick.”

Scout had described Burris Ewell in this way due to the fact he had frightened the teacher by revealing the cootie in his hair. Astonished to have seen the cootie, Miss Caroline told Burris to go home and wash his hair, but Burris said he was leaving

“I done done my time for this year!” (Chapter 3)

Burris even made sure Miss Caroline was crying before he left. Even the children of Maycomb know what kind of people the Ewells are, because when Miss Caroline was puzzled from when Burris said he had done done his time for this year, a member of the class said,

“He’s one of the Ewells, ma’am” (Chapter 3)

The Ewells had not been educated for three generations and Bob Ewell is bringing up his children as his father and grandfather had raised him. So if Bob Ewell were still bringing his children up in the same way, then all of his children, apart form Mayella would turn out like him. This would then in effect cause trouble and havoc for more years to come, as the cycle would continue.

Bob Ewell was able to hunt out of season and no landowner would object, as they knew the children would suffer even more, as his state cheques were only ever spent on whisky and never spent for food on the children. Nobody ever knew how many children Bob Ewell had, but I don’t think it really mattered to him. Mayella Ewell could be considered as the mother figure for the family, but even her father beats her.

During and after the courtroom the community of Maycomb still had no respect for the Ewells; they may have even had less respect for them as they could easily see that Bob and Mayella Ewell had made the story up, even though Tom Robinson was found guilty. As Atticus was defending Tom Robinson it made Bob Ewell look stupid. This is because Atticus was able to make people realise that Tom Robinson was a good man, regardless of his skin colour. He even made some of the jury decide Tom Robinson was innocent. Bob Ewell was now furious at Atticus and was going to seek revenge in any way he sort that could hurt Atticus. Bob Ewell could have been mad and tried to kill Atticus for that matter, but instead he is a coward, even though he did not try and kill Atticus, he tried to kill Jem and Scout, Atticus’s children.

The way Bob Ewell sees violence with his children involved is completely different to Atticus. Bob Ewell is a very violent person, and uses violence a great deal of the time. Although the verdict was guilty for Tom Robinson the community knew that Bob Ewell was lying and forced Mayella to go along with it. There were many points during the court scene that would suggest his story was made up, but there was one point that showed Bob Ewell had no courtesy for Mayella, if the story had been true from when Atticus asked,

“Didn’t you think she should have a doctor, immediately” (Chapter 17)

Bob Ewell replied that he had never thought of it.

Therefore her father beat Mayella because her father saw her kiss a black man. Bob Ewell’s main reason for being mad was because black people at the time were considered to be worthless. If people knew what actually happened Bob Ewell would think people in Maycomb would have even less respect, but people didn’t think anything of the Ewell’s at all, regardless of their behaviour, so there was no real reason to be mad at all. Instead of taking his anger out on Mayella, he could of took it out on Tom Robinson, who had done nothing wrong, but because Bob Ewell is a coward, he will only attack people who cant do anything about it, similarly when Bob Ewell tried to kill Jem and Scout, instead of doing anything to Atticus.

From these events it clearly shows that Atticus is a very loving father, from how he teaches his children manners to be polite, and to try and make them have happy lives in Maycomb. Bob Ewell does not really care about his children, does not show any interest. If Bob Ewell did not like what his children had been doing, or was angry with them he would probably use violence to have control. Atticus would not. Atticus would find a solution to the problem. Atticus is always a very loving father and will always try and protect his children. Surprisingly you could say Bob Ewell wants to also protect his children from the rest of the community because he was trying to protect his daughter Mayella from the rest of the community because he thought it was the right thing to do. As of his deep set hatred for the community from which he lives he cannot show this care for his children in the right way. So even though these two characters are opposite in the way they act, they are similar in protecting their children; Atticus knows how to protect his children in the right way, but Bob Ewell doesn’t, which makes him vicious and violent towards Maycomb and even his own children.

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