Chapter 1-3 of To Kill a MockingbirdScout said,"He ain't company,Cal,he's just a Cunningham." What did she mean by that, and what was Cal's answer?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems rather out of character for Scout to be disdainful of Walter Cunningham, whom she has defended to Miss Caroline at school.  By saying "He ain't company, Cal; he's just a Cunningham," Scout seems to be implying that Walter is no one special since his father and he have come to the house to give payment to her father at times, and since she sees him all the time at school.  To Scout, "company" is someone who does not normally come over to the Finch house, such as the ladies of the Missionary Circle that Aunt Alexandra invites.  For this company, Scout has to dress up, as well.  Scout feels that the situation is too relaxed with Walter,and it is all right to criticize him about his excessive pouring of the syrup.

However, Calpurnia knows that doing so is not good manners.  When she calls Walter "company" she implies a different meaning: the boy is the guest of Scout and, therefore, she should make no remarks about his eating habits. As punishment, she sends Scout to the kitchen, where the servants ate in the old days.  Humiliated, Scout is grateful that she does not have to face Walter and Jem again.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What Scout means by this is that she thinks that Walter Cunningham is not as good as the Finches.  She thinks he is not worthy of being treated like a guest (of being honored in the Finch home).

Calpurnia does not stand for that at all.  She gets very angry at Scout.  She scolds her for being all high and mighty and thinking she is better than other people.  She gives Scout a "stinging smack" and tells her she should come eat in the kitchen because she doesn't deserve to eat with the others.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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