In Ch 3 of "To Kill a Mockingbird", how does Lee make Walter's molasses scene amusing as well as serious?

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renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter three, when Walter douses his food with molasses, we see both serious aspects and humorous ones to the episode. Scout is obviously rude to a guest and embarrasses him, but there is also the humorous aspect that comes with the bluntness and dramatic sides of childhood.

It is easy to forget that Scout is but a child for much of the novel, but here we see that she is capable of childish behavior. Not only does she ignore her fathers warning looks, but after she is punished, she goes into a tantrum that is quite humorous.

Calpurnia forces her to finish her meal in the kitchen, and Scout uses the opportunity to try to guilt Calpurnia for her "abuse". She tells her that at some point she will go off and drown herself just to make Calpurnia feel bad. She also blames her for her trouble at school, by telling her that had she not taught her to write she would not have been in trouble. Scout's rants earn her another admonishment from Calpurnia.

While it was not funny for Scout to hurt Walter's feelings, the seriousness was alleviated by Scout's subsequent tantrum.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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