In chapter 3, how does Atticus treat Walter?

Expert Answers

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

Atticus treats Walter much like he treats his father and his children: with great respect. He engages Walter into a conversation that Walter will feel confortable talking about: farming. When you read the conversation the two have, it sounds like two adults talking. Atticus does not judge his guest and...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Atticus treats Walter much like he treats his father and his children: with great respect. He engages Walter into a conversation that Walter will feel confortable talking about: farming. When you read the conversation the two have, it sounds like two adults talking. Atticus does not judge his guest and will bend over backwards to accomodate Walter. When Scout rudely comments on Walter's eating habits, it is Atticus that stands up for Walter at the dinner table by letting Scout know what she said was not proper. He does not say a thing (he does so that he doesn't further embarass Walter) but Scout knows that she is in trouble if you take a look at her response afterwards.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

His treatment of Walter as an equal is similar to the way Atticus prefers to treat everybody. We can find a direct correlation between Atticus having a real conversation with Walter and Atticus defending Tom Robinson. Atticus isn't as concerned with public perception as everybody else is - a lesson he's hoping he's passed down to Jem and Scout when he instructs them to walk in other people's skin.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Atticus treats Walter with respect when he comes to visit the Finch home. Walter's family is poor and Walter has had to stay out of school for long periods to help his family survive. Atticus listens carefully, and the man and boy "talk like two men."

Atticus, along with Calpurnia, continue to show their guest respect. In Scout's opinion, Walter breaks the standard rules of decorum when he asks for molasses (a treat) and then pours more than is polite all over his food: "He would probably have poured it into his milk glass had I not asked him what the sam hill he was doing," Scout exclaims.

Atticus and Calpurnia will not allow such a dressing down to company. Scout is quickly chastised for her lack of manners. Atticus extends the hand of humanity and human dignity to everyone.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Atticus treats Walter Cunningham respectfully like he does everyone else in Maycomb.  Later in the novel, he even calls Mayella Ewell, “m’am” when cross-examining her during the Tom Robinson trial! When Jem invites Walter to lunch after Walter and Scout got into a little scuffle at school, Atticus begins to talk to Walter about farming, something Walter would know a lot about.  This puts Walter instantly at ease at the Finch dining room table. Because Atticus probably knows that Walter doesn’t bring a lunch to school each day because the Cunninghams are so poor, Atticus wants to make him feel accepted and welcome. Scout laughs at Walter when he pours syrup all over his lunch, and that is when Atticus teaches Scout about "walking around in another person’s skin” to try to understand others. This small episode in the novel allows us to see what kind of man Atticus is, and it also allows for Scout to learn a big lesson about respecting all people. 

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on