.. r children in the class. Miss Caroline, the teacher, was not from Maycomb, and could not be expected to know or to understand the peculiarities of the people of Maycomb. The little girl could not comprehend why Miss Caroline did not have a better understanding. With her limited experience, Scout thought that people were alike everywhere.
Therefore, she thought that her teacher should automatically know that the Cunninghams were poor. Also she thought that her teacher should understand that the Cunninghams, and other people of Maycomb, were too proud to accept anything that they could not pay back. But Maycomb was farm country, and farmers were a “set breed of men,” prizing independence more than a full stomach. Miss Caroline was from the city; Scout learned that city people were different. Miss Caroline: Note, however, that Miss Caroline seemed to have learned something that first day at school too. In the morning, she became disturbed when Scout tried to tell her about Walter Cunningham.
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In the afternoon she was quite willing to listen to one of the older children when he explained to her about Burris Ewell. Thus the reader will find this entire novel is a series of experiences in which one character will gain new insights from his association with the others. New Names: There are two important new names introduced in these chapter – Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell. Both are from the poor, rural section of the county. However, the reader should notice the difference in their characters.
Walter is proud and independent; he won’t accept charity. He apologizes for still being in the first grade. At lunch Atticus speaks to him about farming as though he were a grown man. On the other hand, Burris Ewell is surly. He dares Miss Caroline to make him do anything. Here, therefore, the author presents the reader with the first series of character contrasts. These will be important to the reader throughout the entire novel, especially if he expects to be able to understand fully the theme of the story.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 Radley’s Oak Tree Because Scout was in the first grade, she got out of school thirty minutes earlier than her brother. This meant a walk home alone past the dreaded Radley house. Usually she would run by it. There were two giant oaks on the Radley property. One day as Scout was running past, she noticed something shiny in a knothole of one of the trees. Examining it, she found two pieces of chewing gum. When she decided they were all right to eat, she put them into her mouth. When Jem came home, he made her spit out the gum. Anything found on the Radley place might be poison.
On the last day of school the children found a box with two pennies in it. They did not know what to make of the situation, but they decided to keep the pennies. Dill Returns Two days later Dill arrived. As usual he was full of wild stories and anxious to play games of make-believe. The group decided to play a game modeled on the life of Boo Radley. One of the stories about him was that he had stabbed his father with a pair of scissors, so the children began to act this out every day.
They continued until Atticus caught them and took away the scissors. While the two boys played a scissorless version of their Boo Radley game, Scout became friendly with Miss Maudie Atkinson, a benevolent neighbor who had grown up with Atticus’ brother Jack. The two of them would sit on Miss Maudie’s porch and talk. One day they had a talk about Boo Radley and Miss Maudie tried to explain the mystery of the Radley family. Recalling that Arthur had been nice to her as a boy, she called the Radley house a sad place.
She denied the rumors about Boo as “three-fourth colored folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford.” The next morning Jem and Dill decided they would try to drop a note into the Radley house by using a fishing pole. While they were doing this, Atticus came by and once more warned them about bothering the Radleys. On the last night before Dill had to return home to Mississippi, the boys hatched a plot. They decided to sneak through the back of the Radley property and take a peak through one of the windows. While doing this, they saw the shadow of a man pass by.
As they ran toward the back fence, a shotgun blast went off. The three of them hurried even more and managed to escape. However, when they got home, Jem realized that he had lost his pants. He had had to squirm out of them while crawling under the Radley fence. Thus he found himself faced with another problem.
That night, after everyone had gone to bed, he went back after his pants. Luckily, they were still there. Comment These chapters reveal the children’s reaction to the Radley place, and to the Radleys themselves. It is a typically childish viewpoint. For example, Scout could not eat the gum because anything found on the Radley place might be poison. Also in these chapters there is childish imitation.
The life which the Radleys led was very unusual. The family remained almost constantly in the house. The children, with a natural inclination to imitate the unusual in the adult world, wanted to play the Radley game. The Radley game was their Maycomb substitute for playing cowboys and Indians. With a typical childlike love of adventure and a curiosity to discover the unknown, Scout, Jem and Dill longed to discover the answer to the Radley mystery.
They could not understand it as Atticus or Miss Maudie did. They had to try to find out for themselves what went on inside the secretive home. Thus the incident of the note on the end of the fishing pole and the night visit. Notice, however, that although the children are curious, they are not foolishly brave. For example, they have the length of the fishing pole between them and the house.
Also they chose the darkness of night to sneak up to the window. Chapter 7 School started again. “The second grade was as bad as the first, only worse.” One afternoon, Jem told Scout that when he returned to get his pants, they were hanging over the fence. Some one had mended the tear – “Not like a lady sewed ’em, . .
. All crooked.” After this, the children began to find more things in the tree. First a ball of twine; then two soap dolls; and finally an old watch. They decided they should write a thank-you note to whoever was giving them these things. However, when they went to put the note into the knothole, Jem and Scout found that it had been filled in with cement. Nathan Radley, Boo’s brother, said he had done this because the tree was dying and this was the way to save it.
Atticus home from work and told Jem, “That tree’s as healthy as you are.” Scout noticed that Jem had been crying when he came in that night. Hear – Second Grade was Bad as the First: The second grade was as bad as the first, only worse. Comment In this chapter the children begin to stop taking things for granted. They try to figure out how the articles in the tree got there. When they conclude that it is probably Boo Radley who is putting them there, they do the logical thing. They write a note which they intend to put into the tree.
There is a difference, however, in the way in which each one reacts to the cement. Scout is still very young. She knows that Nathan Radley is being mean, but it does not affect her personally. On the other hand, the older Jem is more sensitive and feels things more deeply. He cries not for himself but for Boo Radley. He cannot comprehend how one man can be deliberately cruel to another.
In his childlike way, Jem realizes that Boo Radley must have enjoyed putting those articles into the tree for them. Jem also realizes that the man was very considerate to sew his pants. Because of his youth, he does not know how to fight adult cruelty. Thus he cries. Chapter 8 Usually Maycomb had hot summers and mild winters.
When snow fell one night, Scout thought it was the end of the world. She had never seen it before. Because of this unexpected cold weather, everyone had fires going at home. During the night, Miss Maudie’s house caught fire. Since all the houses were old wooden ones, everyone had to go out into the cold night.
While Scout was watching the firemen at work, someone slipped a blanket around her shoulders. Later, first Jem and then Atticus realize that Boo Radley must have done this. Jem is afraid to return the blanket; he is afraid of what Nathan may do to Boo. Atticus agrees that they should keep the blanket and the incident to themselves. Comment Kindness is a prominent theme in this chapter.
There is the unexpected kindness of Boo Radley. An air of mystery pervades the blanket incident because no one realizes at the time that the action is being taken. The effect on Scout is typical. She is all right until it dawns on her what has happened. Then she is sick with fright at the thought that Boo Radley stood right behind her and touched her.
On the other hand, Jem reacts differently again. His first concern is Boo. In a babbling attempt to defend him, Jem blurts out the story of his pants to Atticus. His compassion is genuine. He is afraid of what Nathan may do to Boo.
As soon as his fear for Boo is relieved, however, he relaxes and makes a joke at Scout’s expense – he re-enacts the scene for her benefit, frightening her terribly. Miss Maudie Courage is also an important theme, embodied in Miss Maudie’s character. The day after her house burned down, she did not wallow in self-pity. She laughed and said that she was glad that the whole thing had happened. Now she would be able to build a smaller house, take in roomers, and have more room for the plants which she loved so dearly.
The children were perplexed by her unexpected good humor, but they admired her good-natured bravery in the face of personal tragedy. Chapter 9 Chapter 9 introduces the reader to the main action of the story – Atticus Finch’s defense of the Negro Tom Robinson. “Maycomb’s usual disease,” as Atticus calls it, begins to show itself. The narrow-minded bigotry of the townspeople and of the Finch family is hard for Scout to cope with. First there was Cecil Jacobs who announced in the schoolyard that Scout’s daddy defended “niggers.” Scout denied it, but ran home to get an explanation.
Atticus told her that he was going to defend Tom Robinson, a member of Calpurnia’s church. He explains that the case is very important to him personally, and requests that Jem and Scout try to ignore the talk they will hear around town. Next day, Scout is ready to fight Cecil Jacobs again, but remembers Atticus’ request and walks away from a fight for the first time in her life. Some time later they left for Finch’s Landing for the customary family Christmas celebration with Uncle Jack, Aunt Alexandra and cousin Francis. Francis taunts Scout by calling Atticus a “nigger-lover,” saying that “he’s ruinin’ the family.” Scout flies to her father’s defense with fists and “bathroom invective,” but gets a spanking from Uncle Jack. Later he apologizes when he hears her side of the story, and promises not to tell Atticus what Scout and Francis really fought about.
Comment This chapter is very important if the reader is going to understand the full meaning of this novel. Atticus has been appointed to defend a Negro. Scout is ridiculed by one of her schoolmates because of this. Here is shown the attitude of the townspeople toward the Negroes. Then on Christmas Scout hears the same talk from her cousin Francis. This shows the attitude of the Finch family itself about the problem. Both Cecil Jacobs and Francis are, of course, echoing what they have heard the adults say on the subject. Obviously, to both family and townspeople it seems that Atticus Finch is making a mistake.
How does Scout act about this matter: She wants to fight with her fists. But she soon learns that this is not the way to combat a dispute over ideas. Uncle Jack spanks her, but in her mind he has been unfair. Uncle Jack had not listened to her side of the story. When she can tell him about it in the quiet of her room, he says that he is sorry.
Scout And The Adults What then is the picture of the world in the mind of this child, and how does it foreshadow the future events of the story? At first Scout fights with her fists because she does not know how to fight any other way. Then she sees adult injustice applied to her by Uncle Jack, some one whom she loves. She begins to realize that lack of knowledge and lack of forethought often lead people to do things that they might not otherwise do. Later, when Scout sees the injustice performed by the people against the Negro Tom Robinson, she is going to be able to have just a little bit better understanding of the reasons for it. Chapter 10 The first nine chapters give us a picture of Atticus Finch as a kind and understanding man. He is also an upright man who is trying to raise his children properly.
In this chapter we get a clearer picture of him. First we see him through the eyes of his children. To them he is old and feeble because he can’t play football. Then an event occurs to change this picture. A mad dog comes down the street.
It is Atticus who is called upon to do the shooting. His children see him now as a brave man. Scout wants to brag about this to all her friends, but Jem tells her not to. Comment To the reader this chapter might seem out of place. It appears to be an unrelated incident.
However, it serves to help prepare the reader for what is to follow. In a sense, it sums up the character of Atticus Finch. Thus far we have seen him as a very quiet and serious person. Now the author shows another side of his character. He is brave but in a different way. He does the day-to-day actions so well that when he is called upon to do an extraordinary action, its performance comes naturally to him. Scout Vs.
Jem Again we see a contrast in the attitude of the two children. The younger Scout still cannot understand why things should or should not be done. For example, she cannot understand why Atticus never told his children about his ability to shoot. On the other hand, Jem, the older child, is beginning to have a sense of values. He realizes that being a man, and more importantly, a gentleman, is not just in acting and talking.