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Mr. Gilmer asked him one more question. “About you writing with you left hand, are you ambidextrous, Mr. Ewell?”
“I most positively am not, I can use one hand good as the other. One hand good as the other,” he added, glaring at the defense table.
(Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird)

The speaker says he is not ambidextrous, and at the same time he says ‘I can use one hand good as the other.’ Isn’t this the explanation of ‘ambidextrous? Would you explain why his remark isn’t contradictory?

1 Answer 1

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You are correct, the remark is contradictory, but that precisely as the author intends.

The exchange demonstrates that Mr. Ewell does not know what the word ambidextrous means, thinking it to be something insulting. It underscores that he is not only ignorant, but belligerent in his ignorance-- the epitome of "poor white trash."

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