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When Bob Ewell is killed by Boo Radley, and the sheriff convinces Atticus that Radley should not be indicted, we are meant to understand Ewell's death as an optimistic sign of social progress ahead.By contrast, in , the source of inequality and racial apartheid is not located in the pathologies of the white poor, but instead in the will to power of the professional elite.They're upright kids with a strong internal compass. Jem is attacked, mostly offscreen, and his arm is broken by someone stalking him and Scout. It's also used by a young girl when she tells her father, a lawyer defending an African-American man, that kids at school say that her father is defending an ["N" word]; her father tells her never to use that word.
The "N" word is used as a weapon by the lead antagonist, and when Scout Finch uses the word because kids at her school are using it, her father tells her never to use that word.
In the unforgettable courtroom scene, the rape of an impoverished young white woman is discussed in detail, and over the course of the trial, abuse -- and possibly incest -- is implied at the hands of her father.
The beating that Mayella suffers at the hands of her father is no minor incident in the story; it is, rather, the exculpatory evidence that ought to free Tom Robinson.
When Sheriff Heck Tate arrived at the scene of the supposed crime, he noticed that Mayella had injuries along the right side of her face, a fact that Atticus draws out during Tate's examination at trial.
While they are gone, Jean Louise learns that the meeting is for the county chapter of the Citizen's Council, a network of segregationist groups throughout the south that actively sought to maintain the regime of Jim Crow.
Since her father had structured Jean Louise's moral compass for her whole life (had been, in the language of the story, her inner "watchman"), and since Jean Louise could not align herself with the beliefs in racial difference that characterized her region (born "color blind," as the novel puts it), the realization of her father's unexpected moral descent throws her into an existential tailspin, which accounts for most of the story that follows.The manuscript ends abruptly, without making it clear whether Jean Louise ever goes back to New York City again.Despite the various degrees of energy that critics and scholars have devoted to describing how and why is a terrible book (which, according to at least one, should never have been published), the unexpected public beating Jean Louise receives from her uncle escapes mention in nearly every critical assessment of the book.After all, is a book about a child's experience of life, told retrospectively through a child's frame of mind.But when O'Connor suggested that adult readers "did not know" they were reading a child's book, and that perhaps someone should tell them, she was also suggesting a critique of reads more like a horror story: one that attempts to depict American reality with at least a few of its sharp edges purposefully exposed.When Mayella's father catches her making a pass at Tom Robinson, a black man, he beats her viciously for it.When Mayella later perjures herself on the witness stand by accusing Tom of a crime he did not commit, she is also protecting herself from the apparently compulsive violence of a monstrous father, and from the punishment that would be inflicted on her for acting on desires that contradict the racial ideology of Jim Crow.Whereas Atticus's middle-class professionalism goes hand-in-hand with liberal politics and virtuous child-rearing, Ewell's rural white poverty appears to go hand-in-hand with violent racism and vicious child beating. "What did your father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it? ( implying that in his show of mercy, Taylor recognized the expression of an essential, and thus unaccountable, moral character determined by an inextricable cohesion of familial blood and class status.But in , the authoritarian figures of Atticus and Uncle Jack reveal that the white professional men of the Finch clan are hardly less thuggish at heart than Bob Ewell of Old Sarum.10 When confronted with Atticus's tone under cross-examination, Mayella strikes back as if her own life depended on it: "Who beat you up? Why don't you tell the truth, child, didn't Bob Ewell beat you up? The narrating Scout further observed: "I never saw anybody glare at anyone with the hatred Mayella showed when she left the stand and walked by Atticus's table" (, Mayella is the white woman forced to conform to her father's racism, and by giving testimony she knows to be false, she causes the suffering, and eventual death, of Tom Robinson.In despair, Jean Louise leaves her father's house to seek solace with his brother, Dr. But, to her horror, Jack is even more committed to the preservation of the Jim Crow order than Atticus, and when she finally loses her temper and threatens to leave Maycomb for good, Jack suddenly backhands her twice across the face.In the manuscript's painful conclusion, Jean Louise is successfully "cured" by this show of force (and a subsequent tumbler of whiskey), and returns to her Alabama fold, apparently reorganized into her true southern self and at inebriated peace.