The Finch Household
Atticus FinchAn attorney, member of the state legislature, and father of Scout and Jem. Known for his skill with a rifle. He defends a black man named Tom Robinson who is accused of rape, and is referred to by his children by his first name, rather than "Dad" or "father".
- All-Loving Hero: In the original film and book at least. There's a good reason he was voted the best hero ever in AFI's poll.
- Arch-Enemy: Bob Ewell, who made the false accusation that Atticus has to defend Tom Robinson against and eventually tries to murder his children after he makes a fool of him in court. This is almost entirely one-sided on Ewell's part, however, as Atticus treats him with contempt and dismissal while Ewell's hatred of Atticus is intensely personal.
- Age-Gap Romance: In the book, it's mentioned that his wife was a good fifteen years younger than him when they married.
- Badass Baritone: He's a Badass Pacifist with a noticeably deep and composed voice to boot, courtesy of Gregory Peck.
- Badass Bookworm: On the surface he's mild-mannered and bookish, always stuck behind a newspaper or lawbook. But he's also the best shot in Maycomb County and a very intimidating man besides.
- Badass Pacifist: He sits outside the jailhouse unarmed to defend Tom Robinson from a lynch mob, and the defense he gives in the courtroom definitely counts.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mr. Finch is one of the most caring parents you'll find in literature and strong supportive lawyer who usually sees the best in people. But that doesn't mean he isn't afraid to be stern when the time calls for it. In fact when he says this about Bob Ewell, "whenever a white man does that (cheats) to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash., it's pretty much an Out-of-Character Moment for him.
- Clear Their Name: Atticus is determined to do this to Tom Robinson after he's falsely accused of rape (by a white woman, no less), despite his knowledge that the case is most likely doomed to begin with.
- Crusading Lawyer: The town's not mad that Atticus was assigned to defend a black man. The problem is, he's actually doing the job properly, which is tantamount to treason in the racist Deep South.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's how he survives in Maycomb without resorting to insults or harsh words. As a result, he's also a Gentleman Snarker.
- Determined Defeatist: Knows full well that the racist jury will never acquit Tom Robinson, even if all evidence points to his innocence. He gives his all in defending him anyway.
- Does Not Like Guns: Despite his skill, he will only use a gun when absolutely necessary. His kids don't even know that he's capable of wielding a gun until he has to put down a rabid dog.
- Expy: Atticus' character was based upon Harper Lee's father.
- Gentle Giant: In the movie, given that he's played by the 6'3" Gregory Peck, who's noticeably taller than just about everyone around him. Nevertheless, he's a Badass Pacifist who thinks having a gun is "an invitation for someone to shoot you".
- Gentleman and a Scholar: It comes with the territory, being a traditional county-seat lawyer: erudite, civic-minded, and very well-mannered.
- Good Parents: Probably the best example in western literature; Atticus is a highly attentive father who is deeply devoted to fostering a happy and healthy home for his children. Atticus also always practices what he preaches, leading his children by example and, when his kids make mistakes, rather than scold them or become angry, decides to use the situation as a teachable moment to help them learn right from wrong and form a strong moral compass.
- Hidden Depths: Who would have guessed someone like him would be so talented at shooting or such an amazing chess player?
- Honor Before Reason: Atticus facing the lynch mob without a weapon qualifies. If his kids hadn't shown up, he probably would have been strung up right alongside Tom. Fortunately, Braxton Underwood had him covered the entire time, though he didn't know this.
- The Hero: Though the book is from Scout's 1st-person perspective, he's probably the real main character.
- Knight in Sour Armour: Takes a dim view of the trial, but stays at it anyway.
- Nice Guy: A compassionate true gentleman and a kind-hearted father.
- Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Atticus is a real estate lawyer who hates criminal law, but is still appointed to defend Tom Robinson. This is mostly because he's a lawyer in a rural county seat, and therefore expected to be a general practitioner, and also because he is the only lawyer in the county who would take the job and do it well. This is actually portrayed more realistically than most examples, as he's clearly inferior as a trial lawyer to the prosecutor. At least in the novel. In the movie, he makes a much better showing.
- Open-Minded Parent: A famous example. He is respectful and pointedly non-racist, particularly in comparison to most people of his time.
- Papa Wolf: The only time he so much as contemplates violence is where his children are involved.
- Precision F-Strike: A slightly downplayed example. Atticus is normally very polite, articulate and mild-mannered and avoids mean-spirited insults and gossip even towards the more unsavory parts of Maycomb County. However, one point he's talking about Bob Ewell and says "whenever a white man does that (cheats) to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. It's extremely notable and even Scout has a beat.
- Pro Bono Barter: He accepts foodstuffs from the Cunninghams because they can't afford the fees and are too proud not to pay.
- Retired Badass: Used to be a good sharpshooter. He also won't join the father's football team with the excuse that he's too old.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Scout calls it his "last will and testament diction," and remarks that she often has to ask him to repeat sentences because of it. It is implied that Scout's narration is an attempt to imitate this.
- Simple Country Lawyer: Subverted. Atticus really is a simple country lawyer, but he attempts to win the jury over with simple logic and appeals to their sense of humanity rather than charm and emotion.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: He's the only character of note that wears them, and the smartest among them by a pretty wide margin.
- Invoked in the film when he takes up a rifle to shoot the rabid dog. He visibly struggles with raising his eye to the sight with his glasses on, and he tries to fidget them out of the way to get a view. It's treated as a shift in tone when he finally tosses them to the ground, going from a mild country lawyer to the kind of man that's called the best shot in the county.
Jean-Louise "Scout" Finch
The narrator and protagonist of the novel.
- Author Avatar: She's just like Harper Lee was as a little girl.
- Berserk Button: Bad-mouthing Atticus. It gets the better of her even when she's trying to be a proper lady and not start fights, as her response to her cousin calling Atticus a "nigger-lover" is to immediately and viciously punch him in the face. She doesn't even know what the phrase means, but it sounded like an insult and that was enough.
- Boyish Short Hair: In the movie (her hair length is not mentioned in the book, only that she has bangs).
- Character Development: The book is a coming-of-age story for her.
- Children Are Innocent: Her experience in this story helps shape her complex understanding of human good and evil.
- The Cutie: In spite of her rough, tomboyish demeanor, she's shown to be very innocent and sweet (and appears to have a better moral compass than half of Maycomb to boot).
- Daddy's Girl: Played straight. She appears to idolize her father, though it's justified as she's only six and... well, her father is Atticus Finch.
- Deadpan Snarker: Can be, and often not on purpose.
- Femininity Failure: Aunt Alexandra appears to view her as this, chastising Scout's bad behavior and encouraging her to act more like a "proper lady" as opposed to her usual tomboyish ways.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: It is told from her point-of-view, but since she's a kid, she's more of a witness to events.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: She and Jem trade this off over the course of the book. When they're younger, she's constantly trying to restrain him from doing something ill-advised (mostly involving the Radleys), but as they age and he matures, he tries to stop her getting in schoolyard fights over insults to Atticus. Neither is precisely successful.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: She's really hot-headed, fighting and punching out anyone that gets on her bad side. Atticus manages to teach her to curb her temper, albeit only to some extent.
- Hates Wearing Dresses: An unusual attribute - and an often reprimanded one - in 1930's Alabama. She's thoroughly embarrassed when she has to wear a dress for school.
- Innocently Insensitive: Because she's just a kid, she doesn't realize how rude her brutal honesty and blunt language are to adults. She also says the n-word a couple of times without fully understanding what it means.
- Innocent Prodigy: She's smart enough to read far above her grade-level without being taught and apparently has an innate grasp of mathematics. However, she's exactly as naive as you'd expect a pre-pubescent girl to be, and the way the adults around her talk and act mystifies her.
- The Lad-ette: Scout is a young, innocent version of this. She's too young to even know about sex ("What's a whore-lady?") and usually only fights if she's sticking up for someone.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: She went through a cursing phase halfway through the book. Partially because she likes the words, and partially because she hopes that Atticus won't make her go to school if he finds out she learned them there.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Serves as the Masculine Girl in contrast to Dill Harris's Feminine Boy.
- Missing Mom: Her mother died when she was two. Jem remembers her but Scout doesn't.
- Nice Girl: She appears to be a genuinely sweet kid, despite the scornful and often bigoted attitudes of the town she grows up in.
- N-Word Privileges: Defied pointedly when Atticus corrects her after she drops an N-bomb she had just overheard.Scout: Atticus, do you defend "niggers"?
—>Atticus: [startled by Scout's use of profanity] Don't say "nigger", Scout.
- One of the Boys: Jem and Dill appear to see her as this, though they do exclude her from their games upon occasion on the basis of her gender.
- Outdoorsy Gal: Intellectualness aside, she appears to greatly enjoy physical activity and being outside. Overlaps with Passionate Sports Girl.
- Plucky Girl: In notable contrast to her more cynical older brother. Jem's not a fan, and thinks she should act more "ladylike."
- School Is for Losers: She has this attitude, noting that she learns more reading at home with Atticus and that Atticus never had a day of formal schooling in his life. To her credit, Maycomb's school system isn't the greatest.
- Short Tank: Is able to hold her own in physical altercations, despite her small stature and young age. This is eventually subverted, as she stops engaging in fights due to fear of Atticus's disapproval.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: How she narrates the story.
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: She is highly intelligent and, thanks to Calpurnia's efforts, reads at an advanced level even before starting school. The teacher can't wrap her head around this fact and tries her best to tamp down Scout's spirit.
- Tomboy: Especially by 1930's standards. She doesn't like dresses, she plays with boys, and considers "you act like a girl" an insult.
- Tomboyish Name: Prefers being called Scout instead of her real name, Jean Louise.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Being just a child and all. She doesn't really understand why the lynch mob is at the jail house, only that they might hurt her father, and disarms them by talking to Mr. Cunningham.
Jeremy "Jem" Finch
Scout's older brother.
- Adorably Precocious Child: His knowledge of the law and trial procedure is so great that he gives excellent running commentary on Tom Robinson's trial. It's only adorable to the audience, though. Scout just finds it annoying.
- Berserk Button: He's very sensitive about Atticus and his mother. Mrs. Dubose pushing both at the same time causes him to fly into a rage so severe that it terrifies Scout and causes him to trash Mrs. Dubose's camellias in a blind fury.
- Big Brother Bully: He acts like this towards Scout pretty often, especially earlier in the book. He grows out of it eventually.
- Big Brother Instinct: When he and Scout are attacked at the end of the book, he does everything possible to protect her. Which isn't much, given how young he is, but he still screams at her to run and tries to pull her to safety.
- Big Brother Mentor: He tries to be this to Scout, but he just comes off as bossy and officious.
- Cynicism Catalyst: Tom Robinson's trial appears to be this for him, as Jem - in contrast to Scout - is old enough to understand the extent of the injustice that has been done.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In-Universe. He thinks so about being forced to read to the repulsive old lady who insulted his mother while she goes into withdrawal from morphine because he cut up her flowers. In reality, he is being taught an important lesson about respect and bravery.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: He and Scout trade this off over the course of the book. At first, she tries to stop him doing various ill-advised things concerning the Radleys; later, as he matures, he tries to keep her from fighting kids over insults to Atticus. Neither is precisely successful.
- Innocence Lost: More so than Scout, as Jem understands more of the social issues in his community and has a hard time meshing those racist values with people he grew up liking and respecting. Also, his belief in the legal system is shattered after the trial.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a little bit of a smart-ass and can be really mean, particularly to his sister. But he's a decent kid underneath it all.
- Missing Mom: Unlike Scout, he's actually old enough to remember her.
- Scars Are Forever: Not "scar" as such, but the very first sentences of the book describe how Jem's arm was broken close to the elbow, which made it noticeably shorter than it should be from then on. It happens in the climax of the book.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Played with. Scout notes that Jem looks nothing like Atticus, more closely resembling their mother. However, the two have very similar expressions, such as they way they put their hands on their hips when being defiant.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: His belief in justice and the court system surpasses even Atticus', and throughout the trial he is confident that Atticus will win. Needless to say, when the guilty verdict comes back, he's crushed.
Housekeeper of the Finch family and strict mother figure to Scout and Jem. Despite being black, she is able to read and write, and is the one who taught Scout to read and write.
- Closer to Earth: It's clear that she's the disciplinarian out of herself and Atticus, and generally has a more pragmatic approach to parenting the children. Scout notes that Atticus always takes Calpurnia's side in arguments between her and the children as well.
- Double Consciousness: When Scout notices that she acts and talks different when among Black people than she does in the Finch home, Calpurnia points out that she would feel out of place if she didn't match the people around her.
- Kindly Housekeeper: She treats Scout and Jem like her kids. Granted, it means disciplining them sometimes.
- Mama Bear: She may not be their mom, but that doesn't stop her from protecting Scout and Jem.
- Older Than They Look: Cal doesn't actually know just how old she is, but she's older than Atticus (who's somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty), and Jem observes that she looks much younger.
- Parental Favoritism: Scout thinks this is the case, with Calpurnia favoring Jem, but Atticus points out that Cal scolds her more because Scout gets into more trouble. When Scout goes off to school, their relationship greatly improves, mostly because Cal misses her so much.
- Parental Substitute: A mother figure for Scout and Jem.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: We get the impression that Scout doesn't like Calpurnia very much because she is so strict, but she ultimately has the children's best interests at heart.
- Twofer Token Minority: She's the only prominent character that's both black and a woman.
Other Finch Relatives
Atticus' sister and Scout and Jem's aunt. She is obsessed with social status and family respectability.
- Cassandra Truth: Alexandra has a point when she warns Atticus that Bob Ewell might try to go after him for embarrassing him at the trial. Atticus brushes her off but later on Bob attacks his children
- Foil: To Miss Maudie. Both are around the same age, and even grew up near each other, but Miss Maudie is more like a female version of Atticus, while Alexandra couldn't be more different.
- Gossipy Hens: After the trial, Alexandra hosts "missionary teas," which are more or less an excuse for the women of Maycomb County to get together and gossip. Through them, we learn how severely Atticus' reputation has suffered due to his participation in the Robinson case.
- House Wife: As tradition dictates. Though, given that she's the only daughter of an old, propertied Southern family, there's not much need for her to work.
- Innocently Insensitive: She generally means well, but she doesn't seem to realize that her open disapproval of Scout and Atticus does more harm than good.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She does genuinely care about her family, it's just that she's so painfully conventional that she can only show it through scolding them. It really shows after the trial, where she is almost reduced to tears when she sees how much Atticus has to endure for sticking to his beliefs.
- Moral Myopia: One of the reasons she is so opposed to Atticus taking Tom Robinson's case is that she prefers the execution of an innocent man to the scandal of a white Southern woman tempting a Negro.
- Nice to the Waiter: In contrast to Atticus, Alexandra openly disrespects Cal and tries to get Atticus to fire her on multiple occasions.
- Proper Lady: In the form of a grown-up Southern Belle. Alexandra is deeply dedicated to the ideals of Southern womanhood, which means pursuing idle, feminine hobbies and avoiding conflict at all costs. She tries to mold Scout into her image, but her attempts always miscarry.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: She is Atticus' complete opposite. Whereas Atticus is civic-minded, honest to a fault, permissive with his children and very liberal when it comes to matters of tradition and community, Alexandra cares more about appearances than substance, is strict and uncompromising with Scout and Jem, and is more than willing to cave to community pressures to protect her family's name.
- Silk Hiding Steel: At times. When one woman at the missionary teas gets a little too racist and on the nose even for Alexandra, she shuts her down with a single sentence.
- Useless Bystander Parent: She moves in with Atticus in order to help the kids cope with the fallout of his decision to defend Tom Robinson. However, she just makes things worse, mostly because she agrees with the community, and is more preoccupied with dealing with a rebellious Scout.
John Hale "Jack" Finch
Atticus' younger brother and Scout and Jem's uncle. Like Atticus, he has eschewed family tradition to practice a learned profession, becoming the first physician in the Finch family.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Miss Maudie. He asks her to marry him on a pretty regular basis, which apparently he's been doing since they were children. He claims it's just a way to annoy her, but it is subtly implied that he does mean it to some degree.
- Cool Uncle: Unmarried, he's free to dote on Jem and Scout during the holidays. The kids consider him the one positive part of their visits to Finch Landing, almost worth enduring Aunt Alexandra and Cousin Francis.
- Confirmed Bachelor: Unlike Atticus, he's still well into middle age without having ever married. Part of the reason is because he dreads having children of his own.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: As much as Jem and Scout might love Uncle Jack, his parenting skills pale in comparison to Atticus'. Jack is painfully aware of this fact.
Friends and Neighbors
Charles Baker "Dill" HarrisAn intelligent and imaginative boy whom Jem and Scout befriend, described as being short and cotton-headed (whitish-blond hair, book only). His carefree attitude hides his inner pain over his parents' divorce and his mother's alcoholism.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He'd much rather put his considerable intelligence to concoct zany schemes and wild stories rather than anything productive.
- Childhood Marriage Promise: With Scout, who he insists is the only girl he will ever love. Given that he's based on the openly gay Truman Capote, this is probably true.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He lives in a world of his own creation. Scout calls him "a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies."
- Consummate Liar: His lies are always ridiculous, but he's so damn convincing that no one, save Atticus, ever calls him on it.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His home life is less than ideal: abandoned by his father, neglected by his mother, and despised by both.
- Deadpan Snarker: The most cynical character in the story by far.
- Disappeared Dad: He keeps inventing different reasons why his dad's not around.
- Expy: For Harper Lee's friend, Truman Capote.
- Insufferable Genius: He's a little bratty and self-important, but it's largely a facade.
- Large Ham: Is said to act this way when he plays villains in Jem and Scout's games.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the movie after attempting to get close to Boo Radley's house and knocking on his door. He, Jem, and Scout make a break for it and hide around a nearby house. Dill quickly tells the two "see ya next summer" and takes off.
Maude "Maudie" Atkinson
Another neighbor of the Finches and childhood acquaintance of Atticus. Whenever Scout has no one to talk to, she usually talks with Maudie. She also loves baking Lane cakes.
- Color-Coded Eyes: One of the only characters whose eye-color (gray) is mentioned. The significance of this is not clear, but she does fit the stereotype of being calm, composed, and possessing extraordinary inner strength.
- Commonality Connection: With Scout. They develop a fast friendship based on their mutual love of outdoors and dislike of traditionally "girly" things. She's also the one female Scout can spend time with when Jem and Dill lose interest in playing with her.
- Cool Old Lady: Wins a quote-off with some Bible-thumpin' fundamentalists that criticize her vibrant garden.
- Demoted to Extra: Her role in the film is microscopic compared to in the book. Her best lines (notably the speech that gives the book its name), are instead given to Atticus.
- Distaff Counterpart: Scout occasionally compares her wisdom to her father's.
- The Fundamentalist: Averted. She's religious, but not that religious and she's being picked on by "foot-washers" who says she's going to hell because they deem her Nature Lover traits as vain.
- Intergenerational Friendship: She's just as good a friend to Scout as she is to Atticus.
- Nature Lover: Spends all of her time out in her garden.
- The Pollyanna: Even after her house burns down, she still mainly talks about how much bigger she'll make her garden be for her next house.
- Title Drop: "Remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
The older brother of Arthur "Boo" Radley who watches over his imprisoned brother in their house for years after the death of their parents.
- Abusive Parents: He takes over as Boo's guardian after their father dies, and keeps him holed up just the same. It's possible that he means well, his beliefs just blind him to the fact that this isn't exactly healthy.
- Disproportionate Retribution: His response to some kids sneaking into his yard at night? Shooting into the dark with a shotgun.
- Hidden Depths: Unlike his father, he won't just blow off attempts to talk to him. He also personally pitches in to save Miss Maudie's house from the fire and lets Scout and Jem take refuge in his yard. And it's worth noting that he wasn't living at home when his father died, and still took it upon himself to come look after Boo. He's not the nicest person in the world, but there's definitely more going on beneath the surface.
- Promotion to Parent: Scout's narration even says he's "taken his father's place," not just in their home, but in the community.
- The Fundamentalist: Miss Maudie calls him a "foot-washing Baptist," the ultra-conservative type that thinks fun and pleasure are sinful. He gets it from his father, and its part of the reason he treats Boo the way he does.
- Like Father, Like Son: According to Scout, Nathan and his father are exactly the same - the only difference being Nathan will respond back when greeted.
- Terse Talker: When he does deign to speak, he tries to keep it as brief as possible.
Arthur "Boo" Radley
A quiet and reclusive young man and neighbor to the Finches. He is almost never let out of his house and is a mysterious figure to Maycomb, often leading to rumors of just who he is.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Something's wrong with Boo, but there's no psychiatry in Maycomb and his father and brother are only concerned with keeping him out of the public eye. It's also not clear if he was always like that, or its the result of being shut up in isolation for so long.
- Ambiguous Situation: For what specific reason has has he been hidden away for so many years? What exactly is he thinking? What does he want beyond a possible friendship with Jem and Scout? Readers can only speculate as to the answers to these questions and more because we're never given much to go on.
- Big Damn Heroes: At the end of the book.
- Creepy Good: He's a very scary (intimidating may be a more apt description) person, but he's far from evil.
- The Dreaded: Jem, Scout, and Dill are terrified of him, to the point where just touching the Radley house is an act of great bravado.
- Gentle Giant: Despite the exaggerated rumors that surround him, Boo is shown to be a genuinely sweet individual in his brief interactions with Scout.
- The Ghost: Initially, until the final part of the book.
- Good All Along: Jem and Scout start to realize this when Boo leaves them gifts in the knot-hole of the tree.
- Ill Boy: Scout hears him repeatedly coughing badly, and she describes him as being incredibly pale. It's possible that being inside for so long has led to his health deteriorating.
- Irony: When Arthur gets into trouble with his gang, he is spared being sent to the reformatory by the timely intervention of his father. Unfortunately, this made him miss out on the best secondary education available in Maycomb County, so while the other members of his gang have gone on to lead successful and productive lives, Boo is a shut-in doing nothing but fueling children's ghost stories.
- Madman in the Attic: The town has a lot of different stories about why Boo is locked up, such as that he once stabbed his father with a pair of scissors.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Former Trope Namer. Boo's not quite right in the head, but he's hardly the Ax-Crazy lunatic that the town thinks he is. When the kids take an interest in him, he responds with the utmost kindness. He even saves their lives at the climax of the book.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: He's definitely not normal, having some sort of aversion to people and the outside, but he's the farthest thing from evil you can get.
- Papa Wolf: Kills Bob Ewell when he tries to murder Atticus' children.
- Shrinking Violet: While forced into reclusion by his father (or likely because of this), Boo is still very quiet and unsure around others. Discussed by Sheriff Tate, that Boo would likely find the mass attention of others overwhelming.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: No one intervened when Boo's father imprisoned him at home for years on end. Though, considering how small and rustic Maycomb is, this is probably a literal example.
Robert E. Lee "Bob" Ewell
Main antagonist of the novel. A deadbeat, and the shame of Maycomb County. Accuses Tom Robinson of raping his daughter Mayella and successfully lands him in jail.
- Abusive Parents: Physically abuses Mayella, and it's strongly implied that he sexually abuses her as well. And it's fairly likely his abuse wasn't limited to her.
- Arch-Enemy: Thinks he's this to Atticus Finch, as he made the false accusation that Finch has to defend Tom Robinson against, and tries to murder his children when he's made a fool of in court. However, he's just a boorish drunk who picks on helpless people to make himself feel bigger; Atticus just happens to be the man in his way.
- Asshole Victim: While Boo only killed him to save Jem and Scout, he totally deserved it many times over.
- Big Bad: Or as close as you can get in the book — his actions set the plot into motion and heavily impact the main characters.
- Corrupt Hick: Oh yeah. Racist, impoverished, possibly sexually abusive of his own daughter, and spending his few welfare checks on alcohol.
- Dirty Coward: He won't confront the best marksman in town, but he will try to kill his children while they're walking home in the dark. This applies to his other victims as well, as pointed out by the sheriff. He stalks Tom's widow (a woman), vandalizes the judge's the house when he's not there and even Tom Robinson is, as a black man, lower than him socially. He never antagonizes anyone who can fight back.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Throughout the novel. The reason that he got Mayella to accuse Tom of rape is because she had the gall to try to make nice with a black man, and he tries to murder Jem and Scout because Atticus exposed his involvement in the above thing and embarrassed him.
- Egomaniac Hunter: He hunts out of season and eats wild game exclusively. The sheriff lets him get away with it because he knows that Ewell's poaching is the only thing that keeps his children from starving to death.
- Evil Counterpart: To Atticus and possibly Boo Radley.
- Evil Is Petty: After the trial, he harasses Tom Robinson's wife and and tries to kill Jem and Scout, all because he didn't like being embarrassed in court.
- Hate Sink: Bob Ewell is a redneck who spends so much of his welfare money on booze that the sheriff allows his family to illegally hunt so his children do not starve. After one of his daughters, whom he sexually abuses, befriends a local black man, Bob beats her senseless and frames her friend for it. While the man is convicted because the jury is racist, his lawyer makes a fool of Bob in the courtroom, so Bob tries to murder his children.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Stabbed with his own knife by Boo Radley.
- Ironic Name: The original Robert Edward Lee was a southern patrician, a very clever tactician, and even his enemies acknowledged him as a gentleman. Robert E. Lee Ewell is poor 'white trash' and a Stupid Evil brute who no one has anything good to say about.
- Jerkass: He is the most despicable character by a pretty wide margin. Not a single citizen of Maycomb has anything nice to say about him, and even Atticus hates him fiercely.
- Kick the Dog: Harassing Tom Robinson, and even after his conviction and death, stalks and harasses his widow as well.
- Lower-Class Lout: He's what Maycomb calls "white trash," a dirty, unkempt, crass, ignorant man who spends his welfare checks on whiskey while his children starve.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Robert E. Lee. According to Harper Lee, this was done to highlight his low-class background, since it was traditional for poor southern whites to name their kids after Confederate generals.
- The Pig-Pen: To the extent that people are reluctant to shake his hand.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: To the point where Robert E. Lee himself would be turning in his grave if he heard such a bigot bore his name.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Ewell is, bluntly put, a grown up schoolyard bully who picks on people weaker than him. He even acts like a petulant child during Tom Robinson's trial.
- Revenge by Proxy: After Atticus puts holes in his accusations toward Tom Robinson, Ewell tries to murder Atticus' children.
- A Sinister Clue: Atticus points out in court that Mayella's injuries were caused by someone left-handed. Like her dad. Technically, Ewell's ambidextrous (can use "one hand as good as the other"), but given that the defendant can't use their left hand...
- The Sociopath: He's an abusive father with no concern for his family, he threatens anyone who rubs him the wrong way, he forces his daughter to falsely accuse her friend of rape, and he tries to murder Atticus' children.
- Stupid Evil: He seems to prioritize being an ass over everything else, even his own sense of self-preservation. Not to mention his lie is so flimsy and transparent that he never would have gotten away with it if Tom Robinson wasn't black.
- Villainous Incest: It is implied that he sexually abuses his oldest daughter, Mayella, though it is never stated outright.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted: Everyone knows that Ewell is a total slime. He only wins against Tom because he is white in a backwards Southern town. And the trial only reveals more unsavory facts, driving him into his vengeful rampage later in the book. If anything, his life gets worse after Tom Robinson is convicted: Ewell expects to be hailed as the town hero, but the evidence was overwhelming enough that if Mayella or her siblings were abused again, everyone would know exactly who did it. It sets Bob on his Villainous Breakdown that leads him to drunkenly attempt to murder Scout and Jem.
- Would Hurt a Child: In addition to the heavy implications that he abuses his own children, he tries to kill Scout and Jem to get back at their father.
Mayella Violet Ewell
Bob Ewell's daughter. Accuses Tom Robinson of raping her. She is the novel's secondary antagonist, but not by choice.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The book describes her as heavy set and ugly while in the film she's rather thin and only slightly disheveled.
- All of the Other Reindeer: She is treated like trash by the rest of Maycomb because she's a Ewell. There are signs that she wishes to rise above her family's reputation (for instance, she plants geraniums in her family's garden), but no one is willing to give her that chance.
- Asshole Victim: Debatably. She's from a pretty messed-up family and isn't a nice person at all, but it's possible she's only like this because of her father.
- Broken Bird: Her life has very little good in it. When Atticus addresses her with basic courtesy, she thinks he's mocking her.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: It's rather a stretch to call Mayella evil, but her Friendless Background means she doesn't get that Atticus's politeness during the trial is not an attempt to mock her - he just really is that nice.
- False Rape Accusation: Her falsely accusing Tom of rape is what kicks off the plot of Mockingbird.
- Friendless Background: She is too busy trying to control/care for her many siblings and trying (but failing) to keep their home clean that she has no friends. Part of the reason as to why she came onto Tom, as he was the only person who did not treat her badly because she was "trash", and was friendly to her.
- Hidden Depths: Mayella grows beautiful geraniums in her backyard, indicating a desire for a better life than what she was given.
- Incest Subtext: She accidentally makes a couple of remarks in court that imply Bob Ewell to be sexually abusing her. Surprisingly, little attention is given to that concern.
- Missing Mom: Became a Parental Substitute to her siblings after Mrs. Ewell died.
- Promoted to Parent: After Boo kills her father to protect Scout and Jem. This is actually a promotion in every sense of the word, considering how awful Mr. Ewell was.
- It is implied that this happened to Mayella when her own mother died, as she was forced to take care of her younger siblings and possibly have a sexual relationship with her father at that.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: No one intervenes to help the Ewell family, despite its many problems. Justified, as social services would have been underdeveloped at the time the novel takes place, and in a rural town like Maycomb, they really wouldn't exist.
- Trauma Conga Line: Mayella's life has been one long procession of pain. She loses her mother at a young age, endures physical (and possibly sexual) abuse from her father, lives in poverty and squalor, struggles to raise her siblings alone, has no friends, and is an outcast because of her "white trash" background. After she comes onto Tom, the only person who showed her kindness, her father forced her to falsely accuse Tom of rape.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: What starts off merely as a bid to get some positive attention turned into a massive spectacle that costs a man his life and ignites the racial tension simmering in Maycomb.
A black man accused of raping and assaulting Mayella Ewell. His left arm is crippled, which becomes a vital point in his trial. Despite Atticus's efforts, he is found guilty and imprisoned.
- Convicted by Public Opinion: Played straight. Though it is essentially proven that he did not rape Mayella, he is found guilty by the court simply because he is a black man. Sadly enough, this is Truth in Television, as the judicial system is often racist or unjust (and the jury's opinions on race are in line with most white men at the time).
- Despair Event Horizon: Crosses this after being convicted. The reader can actually pinpoint the exact line where it happens, when Tom refuses Atticus' help in the appeal trial.
- Gentle Giant: In the film, he's a pretty physically imposing guy, being over 6 feet tall and in pretty good shape. This doesn't change the fact that he's a good man who did nothing besides try to help a lonely person and ended up persecuted as a result.
- Nice Guy: He was one of the only people who treated Mayella with kindness, and pitied her even as she ruined his life.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He helps Mayella and treats her with kindness and his reward? To be accused of raping her and sent to jail and killed.
- Red Right Hand: Averted; his left arm doesn't move anymore but he's far from a villain.
- Scary Black Man: Averted big-time. He's a fairly intimidating guy (though some of this is due to the fact that he is black, and Maycomb is primarily racist), but he is shown to have a gentle soul.
- Suicide by Cop: One way of perceiving him being shot to death trying to climb the prison fence.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The real tragedy is that we don't know this for sure. No one is interested in whether Tom was a good man, since his guilt was decided long before the trial began. Notably, he's the titular mockingbird: killed for doing nothing more than being innocent in the wrong place.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette DuboseA racist, often aggressive woman who lives near the Finch household. She is later revealed to be suffering from a morphine addiction, of which she dies of as Jem reads to her.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe. Though Jem appears to view her as an undoubtedly bad person due to her deep-rooted racism (and taunts about his family), Atticus admires her courage when it comes to battling her morphine addiction.
- Would Hurt a Child: Not physically, per se, but she's not above screaming insults at Scout and Jem simply because she doesn't approve of their father.