Atticus teaches Scout that compromise is not behind the law but an agreement reached my mutual consent. Does Scout apply or reject this in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Scout agrees to a compromise, but tries to find ways to get around it.
Scout is very excited to go to school at first, until she does. Then she gets frustrated because school is not what she expects. She gets in trouble almost immediately. Her teacher is upset because she already knows how to read, and she seems to think Scout is some kind of show off. So Scout decides school is an awful place and she doesn’t want to go there. Atticus decides to try to get Scout to compromise.
"If you'll concede the necessity of going to school, we'll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain?"
"Yes sir!" (Ch. 3)
Despite Scout’s apparent enthusiasm for this compromise, which is that she gets to continue to read but still goes to school, she is not happy with school. Scout is a very smart little girl, and school is just not designed for smart kids like her. She is so far ahead of the rest of the class and the teacher is not prepared for her. This led to the frustration that caused the teacher to scold her for reading in the first place, rather than being impressed with Scout’s advanced skills. So Scout tries to come up with ways to get out of school.
Despite our compromise, my campaign to avoid school had continued in one form or another since my first day's dose of it: the beginning of last September had brought on sinking spells, dizziness, and mild gastric complaints. (Ch. 9)
Scout even attempts to make herself sick, paying to rub her head against the “head of Miss Rachel's cook's son” to try to get ringworm. As disgusting as that is, it fortunately did not work. Scout has not really learned to compromise, because it is too much of a compromise. She cannot give up who she really is. She is an intelligent little girl, and school is just too difficult for her. It tries to bring her down to the lowest common denominator.
The other reason school is so difficult is because the children are mean to her because Atticus is defending Tom Robinson in what for Maycomb is a very important trial, and she has to face them there every day. As the trial looms nearer, Scout becomes more and more aware of the reality of Maycomb and its racism, and the anger they feel toward Atticus and betrayal they feel he has done to them. It is something Atticus knows that she will have to face. For Scout, it is time to grow up fast.