I'm reading Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mocking Bird". In the following paragraph:

And it's certainly bad, but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains. I don't know of any landowner around here who begrudges those children any game their father can hit. Of course he shouldn't, but he'll never change his ways. Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?

What is the exact meaning of "Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?"

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  • Did you look up what taking something out on someone means? – tchrist Feb 13 '17 at 1:27
  • Yes. I have done. But only not sure what "your disapproval" refers to. LabGecko gave detailed explanation. – tianrong zhan Feb 14 '17 at 5:28

Loosely translated, the paragraph means: "The man spends more money on liquor than on food for his children. His children are not fed enough. So landowners in the area do not mind letting the man shoot animals for food to feed the family."

In more detail: A relief check is a tax return, welfare check, or other form of government assistance such as disaster relief (FEMA) or economic stimulus (IRS).

Green whiskey is the first pour of liquor from a batch of whiskey. It tends to be much stronger than later, clear pours. (Dismilis Canyon)

'Game' as mentioned in this paragraph is hunting game, or wildlife. In America at this time most regions allowed land owners to hunt the animals on their land with restrictions to prevent hunting animals during times in which they procreate and raise their young. Enforcement on those restrictions was often not strict unless the landowner specifically called the police (game warden) in to handle a problem.

"Of course he shouldn't" refers to Mr. Ewell hunting animals for food and spending money on liquor instead of spending his money on food directly. If drunk, his hunting skills are not likely to be good, so the children go hungry.

"take out your disapproval" is asking if Scout is going to get Mr. Ewell arrested for poaching (hunting game out of season), and as a result causing more hardship for the Ewell children.

  • Now I thoroughly understand. Thanks for your detailed explanation. – tianrong zhan Feb 14 '17 at 5:26

"Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?" = Are you (you are being angry, upset, hostile or having dislike etc.) going to treat them (though they are not at any fault) unfairly?

From Macmillan Dictionary (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/take-out)

take something out on someone : to make someone suffer because you are angry, upset, or tired, even though it is not their fault.

When he’s under pressure at work, he takes it out on me.


I think it means that are you going to take out the disappointment with the father by disapprovingly punish his children in a variety of ways i.e. not giving opportunities.

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