What do you learn in this chapter about the Ewells?
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Chapter Three introduces the Ewell family, who will figure heavily into the latter part of the book. Burris Ewell and his family manage to live outside the local and national laws because they are so poor and ignorant, belonging to the lowest circle of white Maycomb society. The Ewell children only need to come to school for the first day, and then the town will overlook the fact that they are absent, even though schooling is mandatory for all children. Likewise, Mr. Ewell is allowed to hunt out of season because he is known to be an alcoholic who spends his relief money on whiskey - if he can't hunt, his children may not eat. Here we see how the law, which is meant to protect people, can sometimes be harmful if followed too absolutely. Sometimes, it is in everyone's best interests to bend the law in special cases. The town's opinion is that no law will ever force the Ewells to change, because they are set in their "ways". Rather, the law must change to accommodate them and protect the children, who should not have to suffer needlessly.