After Scout begs Atticus not to make her return to school, what advice does he give her for getting along with people?

After Scout begs Atticus not to make her go back to school, Atticus advises her that the best way to get along with others is to try to see things from their point of view.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scout has difficulties with her teacher, Miss Caroline, on the first day of first grade. The outspoken Scout gets into trouble for trying to explain to Miss Caroline about the pride of the poor Cunningham family and for insisting that she already knows how to read. Miss Caroline tells her she must stopping reading at home, as she is no doubt being taught by the wrong method.

Deeply disappointed by her first day of school, Scout decides it would be best not to return to school at all. However, Atticus tells her she needs to go, saying that she needs to learn to get along with people—especially those who, like Miss Caroline, are different from her. Atticus then offers up a piece of wisdom that will become a major theme of the novel: that we can't understand people until we walk in their shoes and see the world from their point of view. Essentially, Atticus is saying that Scout needs to develop empathy to get along better with others. Scout works to become more empathetic towards others throughout the novel, and her increased capacity for empathy is highlighted at the end of the novel when she stands on Boo's porch and literally see the world as he does.

Atticus also gives Scout some advice about tact—namely, that there are times to speak and times when it is best to keep one's mouth shut. For example, Scout can simply decide to continue to read at home without telling Miss Caroline she is doing so.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scout is like many other children who struggle to get along with others, whether their classmates, their siblings, or even adults. When Scout begins first grade, she experiences her biggest challenge yet. Scout has been reading as long as she remembers, and she is good at it and loves it. But now her teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher, says that Atticus must stop teaching Scout how to read because he “does not know how to teach” and must therefore be doing it all wrong. She says that she must “take over” and “try to undo the damage.” Scout is more than bewildered, and she certainly does not want to stop her reading sessions with Atticus in the evenings.

Scout's relationship with her teacher does not improve after this point. In fact, Miss Caroline hits her in the hand with a ruler and makes her stand in the corner after Scout tries to explain the Cunninghams' pride to her. This is something Miss Caroline would have known had she always lived in Maycomb, and Scout, who was trying to be helpful, is confused by her teacher's reaction.

Later, Scout tells Atticus that she doesn't feel well and that she doesn't think she will go to school any more. Atticus asks what is really the matter, and the whole story pours out of Scout. “Please don't send me back, please sir,” she begs.

Atticus then gives his daughter some good advice about how to get along with people. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,” he says, “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” He then explains to Scout that Miss Caroline might have, as an outsider, felt overwhelmed by how much she didn't know about the new town she was in. He ends by making a deal with Scout. They will continue to read every night as long as Scout continues to go to school.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scout doesn't want to go to school because she and the teacher cannot get along. Scout is proud that Atticus has taught her to read, but Miss Caroline Fisher is not impressed and tells Scout, "Your father doesn't know how to teach" (22). Ms. Fisher continues to show her ignorance of the southern town, Maycomb by insulting both Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell. When Scout tries to explain to the her the situation with Walter, Scout is called to the front of the class, and Ms. Fisher slaps her hand.

In Chapter 3, Scout begs Atticus not to send her back to school. Atticus uses this moment to introduce one of the motifs of the novel. He tells Scout, "You never really understand a person until you walk around in their skin," indicating to Scout to consider things from the other person's point of view. He also tells her that sometimes it is necessary to bend the law, but she must obey the law. He then instructs her that it is sometimes better to ignore things. He uses the example of Jem in the tree house. He tells Scout that if she would just ignore Jem, he would come out.

At the end of the Chapter 3, Atticus and Scout reach the compromise that if she will go to school, they will continue to read at night. He also instructs her not to tell the teacher, reinforcing two of the lessons of this chapter: sometimes you need to bend the rules, and sometimes you need to ignore things.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This happens in Chapter 3.  This is the part in the book where Atticus gives Scout the famous advice about getting in to someone's skin before you judge them.  What he says exactly is

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.

What Atticus is saying here is that you can get along with people better if you try to understand what it is like to be them.  You should not just impose your own point of view on them.  You need to see things the way they see them.

If you can do that, you'll get along better with other people because you will be able to understand why they act the way they do.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is one of the key bits of advice Scout receives from her father in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout has had a particularly rough first day at school. Her inexperienced new teacher, Miss Caroline, has accused Atticus of being a poor teacher; she has gotten into a fight with Walter Cunningham Jr.; she draws the ire of Calpurnia at lunch; and then she gets her hand paddled by the teacher in the afternoon. When Scout tells Atticus that she does not want to return to school, he tells her that

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
    "Sir?"
    "--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Atticus tells Scout that she has "learned many things today." He makes a bargain with his daughter: If she will agree to go back to school, they will continue to read together each night (against Miss Caroline's wishes--and without her knowledge).

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in Chapter 3 on the evening of the first day of school, Scout mentions to Atticus that if she keeps going to school, "we can't ever read any more...." In response to this statement, Atticus asks Scout if she knows what a compromise is, and suggests that they compromise by mutually agreeing to read every night "just as we always have." But, as Scout goes out the front screen door, her father suggests that she not say anything at school about their agreement. In other words, what Miss Caroline does not know will not hurt her.

This lesson of reticence in the appropriate situation is certainly one that a good lawyer knows. As a loving and tolerant man and father as well as a competent lawyer, Atticus Finch imparts many such lessons to his daughter.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on