The Ewells are a poverty-stricken family living in Maycomb County, Alabama. They are seen as the lowest of the low in the community, both socially and economically. The Ewells are known for their ignorance, prejudice, and overall dysfunctional behavior.
One member of the Ewell family is Burris Ewell, who is described as a “little bantam cock of a boy” by Scout, the narrator of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Burris is known for his unruly and dirty appearance, as well as his disrespectful behavior towards his teacher, Miss Caroline. When Miss Caroline tries to discipline Burris for his poor hygiene, he responds by calling her derogatory names and scaring her with a cootie he claims to have. This incident reveals the lack of discipline and respect within the Ewell household.
Mayella Ewell, the eldest daughter of the family, plays a significant role in the story as she accuses Tom Robinson, a black man, of raping her. Mayella is described as a lonely and unhappy young woman who lives in squalor. Her testimony during Tom Robinson’s trial reveals the deep-seated racism and prejudice that exist within the Ewell family. Mayella’s false accusation of rape stems from her fear of being ostracized by the community due to her attraction towards Tom, a black man.
The Ewells represent the worst aspects of Maycomb society. They are uneducated, poor, and engage in morally and socially unacceptable behavior. The community knows that the Ewells are not to be trusted, and their reputation precedes them. Despite their dire circumstances, the Ewells still manage to hold a certain level of privilege solely due to their whiteness. This is evident in the way Mayella is treated with more sympathy and belief than Tom Robinson, despite the lack of evidence supporting her claim.
In my personal experience, I have encountered individuals or families who share similarities with the Ewells. These encounters have made me realize that poverty and lack of education can contribute to a cycle of dysfunction and prejudice. It is crucial to understand that these individuals may need help and support rather than judgment and condemnation. However, it is also essential to hold them accountable for their actions and not excuse their behavior solely based on their circumstances.
To summarize, the Ewells are a poor and ill-educated family in Maycomb County. They are known for their ignorance, prejudice, and dysfunctional behavior. Burris Ewell’s disrespectful behavior at school and Mayella Ewell’s false accusation of rape highlight the dysfunctional nature of the family. The Ewells represent the prejudiced element of the community and showcase the impact of poverty and lack of education on individuals and their interactions within society.