In "To Kill a Mockingbird," what issues does the character Scout face in chapters 1-5 (especially Miss Maudie in summer twilight)?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a narrative told in retrospect by the now adult Scout, "To Kill a Mockingbird" has a strategically planned exposition that introduces several of the themes of Harper Lee's novel.  For one thing, Lee introduces her theme of appearances and reality in the first chapter with the mystery and supposition about the Radley family.  In the second chapter, Lee presents new characters, representatives of their parents who among the society of Maycomb, Alabama, in a comical manner as Scout retells her first day at school.  Present on this first day are representatives of the white social strata of the town:  Burris Ewell, Walter Cunningham, and Little Chuck Little--all of whom do not know "where their next meal is coming from." 

However, there are differences among these poor boys, for Burris Ewell has no respect or pride; his family lives near the dump and depends upon welfare; Walter is very proud just as his father is who will not take welfare; and, Little Chuck is a "little gentleman" albeit poor.

Scout faces the issue of judging people by their social position.  When she tells Calpurnia that Walter, whom she has brought home to eat in Chapter III, "He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham--" Scout is taught by Calpurnia to be polite and respectful to everyone.  This lesson is later reinforced by Atticus who teaches his daughter the moral lesson that "until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" one never really understands a person.

Then, in the first part of Chapter IV, Scout's narration about her teacher, Miss Crawford, indicates that she does not appreciate the rigid, formal education at public school.  And, in actuality, her most valuable lessons do come from her encounters in life and what Calpurnia,Atticus, and Miss Maudie teach her.

In contrast to some of the characters introduced in Chapters I-IV, Chapter V introduces the reader to Miss Maudie, an open-minded and fair woman similar to Atticus Finch. When Miss Maudie make innuendoes about Miss Stephanie moving closer to her bedroom window when Boo Radley supposedly looked into it, the innocent Scout does not understand, suggesting her naivete regarding the Radleys. But she learns later from Miss Maudie's example about the importance of being sincere and genuine with the story about the Radley's and the "foot-washing Baptists."

In Chapters I-V of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the stratum of characters is introduced along with predominant themes.  In fact the events and characters of these first few chapters are closely related to the final episodes of Harper Lee's novel.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" the events unfold from one into another as the reader moves through the chapters. 

 In Chapter 1: The children meet Dill for the first time and they introduce the town haunted house and boogieman, Boo Radley and his home.

In Chapter 2:  Scout has a new teacher, Miss Caroline who is unhappy that Scout's father has taught her to read.  She tells Scout she can no longer have her dad read to her. 

In Chapter 3: Scout makes fun of Walter Cunningham, a poor boy, for pouring syrup over his food.  Calpurnia scolds her.  She wants Atticus to get rid of Calpurnia.  She continues to have problems with Miss Caroline and does not want to have to attend school

In Chapter 4: Scout gets gum from Boo Radley's tree.  The children have been acting out a game that made fun of the Radley's.  They are observed by a neighbor. 

In Chapter 5: The children sit on the porch at twilight and watch fireflies with Miss Maudie.  Mis Maudie introduces them to the concept of foot washing Baptists. 


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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