Exemplar Character Analysis: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Bob Ewell Characterisation:

Bob Ewell is presented by Harper Lee as abusive and dichotomously, both uneducated and revealing an innate sense of superiority which is borne from “his skin was white.” As the “little bantam cock of a man rose and strutted to the stand” p.187 Harper Lee highlights her socio-political critique of the parochial and xenophobic mindset of Maycomb county that is exemplified in Bob Ewell and the prejudice that he so openly demonstrates. Harper Lee draws inextricable links between the importance of education in dissolving racial discord and narrow-minded perspectives, witnessed through Scout and her schooling. This prejudice and superiority is compounded in the significance of Bob Ewell’s name: connoting General Robert E. Lee, a confederate general who represented racism and bigotry in the ‘Deep South’ during the Civil War era. Much of Bob Ewell’s prejudice stems from his diminished position in society: The Ewells “had thrived on welfare for three generations” p.143. Ewell is acutely aware of the perceptions of Maycomb: “they get Christmas baskets and the back of their hand” and this exacerbates his sense of superiority as he attempts to assert his white privilege but in doing so becomes the much mocked “little bantam” that incites “whispers and chuckles” from the courtroom and ridicule.

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