In Chapter 9 of To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Scout pay to rub someones's ringworm?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout was still not happy about having to go to school, and she was willing to do anything--absolutely anything--to find a way to convince Atticus that she should not go. Dealing with Cecil Jacobs' taunts and refraining from using her fists were just a few of her problems. When Atticus cautioned her about using the "N" word, Scout defended herself by claiming that everyone at school said it, and that

"... if you don't want me to grow up talkin' that way why do you send me to school?"  (Chapter 9)

Atticus looked at her with "amusement in his eyes," but he might not have been so forgiving if he had known some of the other methods she attempted to get out of going. Scout had already made up stories of dizzy spells and stomach aches, but her attempt at contracting ringworm--a contagious, fungal skin infection that can cause itching, blistering and oozing--in order to stay home sick from school was, well, sick. Unfortunately for Scout, rubbing her head against the infected head of Miss Rachel's cook's son didn't take, and it cost her a nickel to boot. She would have to find a better way of convincing Atticus to let her play hooky.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs tells the entire playground that Scout's father defended niggers, which upsets Scout enough to tell her older brother about it. That evening, Scout asks her father if he defended niggers and Atticus chastises her for using the racial slur. Sensing an opportunity to avoid going school, Scout tells Atticus that if he doesn't want her using those words, then he shouldn't send her to school. Scout then elaborates on her campaign to avoid school. Scout admits to faking nausea and dizziness to avoid school, and she even pays Miss Rachel's cook's son to rub his head against her head so that she would contract his ringworm. Unfortunately for Scout, she does not catch ringworm and is forced to attend school. Scout's numerous unsuccessful attempts to avoid attending school add humor to the novel and illustrate Scout's perception of the educational system. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question