What is the theme in chapter 2-3 of To Kill A Mockingbird? 

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In chapter two of To Kill A Mockingbird, the theme is that of a Maycomb education and how society works in Maycomb. Although the new teacher at Scout's school has an education of her own, Miss Caroline is not educated about the people and their behavior in Maycomb. Scout tries to educate Miss Caroline as to the way people act in Maycomb. Miss Caroline does not appreciate Scout's sincerity. She punishes Scout by spanking the palm of her hand with a ruler. The other students laugh and disrupt class. Miss Caroline is insecure, so she tries to reinforce her authority by spanking Scout. 

Scout was only trying to teach Miss Caroline about the pride of Walter Cunningham. When Walter refused Miss Caroline's charity, Miss Caroline insisted he take her quarter since he had no lunch money of his own. Walter's pride was bruised. He refused to be treated like a beggar. Clearly, Miss Caroline has so much to learn about the people of Maycomb. Nonetheless, Miss Caroline is defensive when Scout tries to be the teacher.

Again, in chapter three, we see the theme of how people in Maycomb are educated. We learn how Maycomb society works. After Scout fights with Walter, Jem makes peace by inviting Walter home to eat lunch. When Scout ridicules the way Walter eats his lunch, Calpurnia teaches Scout to respect people and their differences. The theme of prejudice versus tolerance is evident when Calpurnia disciplines Scout for ridiculing Walter Cunningham for pouring syrup all over his food. Calpurnia teaches Scout a lesson in respecting all people, no matter how different they may be, definitely a theme in chapter three. Scout definitely learns valuable lessons on her first day of school. In fact, she learns more than she had anticipated, especially since Scout felt she already knew so much. 

Chapter three concludes with the popular quote of Atticus. He tells Scout she is not to judge another person until she has walked around in his skin:

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."



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