Advanced Language, Literature, and Composition
20 December 2017
Bob Ewell’s Prejudice
Throughout Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Bob Ewell believes that he is above black people only because he is white. His racist attitude reflects the atmosphere in the town of Maycomb. Bob Ewell’s prejudice shows how humans tend to lack progress because they judge others in groups. This is illustrated by him beating his daughter, him falsely accusing a man of raping his daughter, and him attempting to kill a teenager.
Bob is guilty of beating his daughter, though everyone believes him when he says he did not. In Tom Robinson’s trial, Bob’s daughter, Mayella, is on the witness stand. “‘He does tollable, ‘cept when—’ ‘Except when?’ … ‘Except when he’s drinking?’ asked Atticus so gently that Mayella nodded” (245). This illustrates how Bob Ewell can be hostile when he is drinking. If only a calm voice can make Mayella admit to having an abusive father, then there must be something wrong in the household. Mayella is in a bad living state without any additional factors, so a drunk, abusive father will only inhibit her ability to succeed. This will cause Mayella to think and have the same prejudices as her father.
Bob Ewell also falsely accuses a black man, Tom Robinson, of raping his daughter, and wins the case. When Atticus is talking to Scout about the situation, he mentions how cases like this tend to end up in court. “‘There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life'” (295). Atticus’ wisdom shows how the people of Maycomb believe Bob only because he is white. The situation that Tom is in will behind bars, and stop him from accomplishing anything in his life only for being a black man.
Finally, Bob Ewell tries to murder Scout and Jem. After Scout’s school play, Scout and Jem are in a situation that they don’t like when a Bob starts chasing them with a knife. “Shuffle-foot had not stopped with us this time. His trousers swished softly and steadily. Then they stopped. He was running and running towards us with no child’s steps. ‘Run, Scout! Run! Run!’ Jem screamed” (351). This shows how Bob Ewell starts to chase Scout and Jem. The panicked nature of the kids shows that Bob would have done more if he had not been stopped. This directly shows how Bob is treating even the kids of the people against him as if they are one general group, and wants them all behind bars or worse – dead.
Bob Ewell has shown throughout the book that he judges others as a group. He has beat his daughter, accused a man of a serious crime, and attempted to murder two kids. These all show how evil Bob and other humans can be when they judge others as a group. People like Bob can cause a whole community like Maycomb to have prejudice against a group that has done nothing wrong, and mass xenophobia in our entire society.