In chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what are the character traits of Jem, Atticus, Walter, Calpurnia, Miss Caroline, and Burris Ewell?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In this chapter, Scout describes a very eventful but awful first day at school. She has just tried to explain to her techer, Miss Caroline, that giving Walter Cunningham a quarter to buy his lunch is not a good idea because the Cunninghams don't take charity from anyone and besides, they could never pay it back. After this incident, Scout gets in trouble with the teacher, so at lunch recess, she starts to beat up Walter for getting her in trouble with the teacher. Jem arrives and shows himself to be very wise - very much like his father, Atticus, because he tells Walter not to be afraid of Scout, picks Walter up from the dirt and invites him to lunch, telling Walter that his father and Atticus are friends. On the way home, Walter becomes at ease. Walter is a proud young boy, even though he is poor, and he accepts the invitation to lunch because of what Jem told him about their daddies being friends.

Miss Caroline is the teacher. She is obviously overwhelmed in this chapter by her new students. She does not know how to deal with Scout, who already knows how to read, she is not familiar with her students, because she didn't know about the Cunninghams (Walter) and she is horrified by Burris Ewell's cooties, which come flying out of his hair. She is a young, new teacher having a bad first day at school herself.

Calpurnia shows herself to be a loving caretaker for the children in this chapter. She senses that Scout has had a bad day and lets Scout stay in the kitchen while she makes dinner. She tells Scout that she has missed her while she and Jem were away at school.

In this chapter, we see the first glimpse of the Ewell family, who is about to become an even bigger part of the novel. We learn that Burris is typical of his family - a white-trash kind of kid who cusses, spits, and does not bathe. He challenges the teacher and tells her he is not going to stay in school, that he only attends school for one day every year, and she can just deal with it. He is a nasty little boy. This foreshadows the evil that eventually comes from other members of the Ewell family.

Atticus acts very wisely in dealing with Scout, just as he does throughout the novel. He talks with her and tries to calm her down about school. Instead of criticizing her and just telling her she WILL go to school and that is that, he compromises with her. He tries to suggest ways of dealing with her teacher that will help her get along better in school. At the end of the chapter, Scout is relieved, happy and willing to go back to school.

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