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Explain the scene between Miss Caroline and Walter Cunningham in Chapter 2 of To Kill...

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hannaiscute9624 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:10 AM via web

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Explain the scene between Miss Caroline and Walter Cunningham in Chapter 2 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 20, 2010 at 9:38 AM (Answer #1)

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Miss Caroline, Scout's teacher, is new to the town of Maycomb.  She does not understand the people of the town, their backgrounds, or their culture.  She is also new to teaching.  She believes that the classroom and her instruction should progress in a deliberate manner.  She demonstrate this when she ridicules Scout for having already learned how to read, believing that there is only one proper way to teach this skill, and Scout must be hindered by her substandard instruction.

She further demonstrates her tunnel vision in her interaction with Walter.  When it is time for lunch, she sees that Walter has made no attempt to eat.  She tries to lend him a quarter, not understanding that this is an insult to the Cunningham family, who are both responsible and proud and don't believe in borrowing.  Walter, shy and embarrassed, has difficulty making Miss Caronline understand; she is convinced that he must just take her money and comes close to bullying him in her attempt to be kind.

Scout finally steps in, and is punished for her efforts.  Miss Caroline accuses Scout of meddling and being disrespectful.  This is an opportunity for Scout to understand that adults will not always be reasonable or fair, no matter how kind their intentions.  It also opens the door for more interaction between Scout and Walter, which is another growing experience for the young girl.

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