"Had to put him out good and proper to touch him. So scat." Chap.30 P.274. Please help me to understand this statement.Does Dr. Reynold joke with Scout? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dr. Reynolds's statement is actually made after he has examined Jem.  He enters the room where Scout and Atticus are sitting and places "a big package wrapped in newspaper" which probably contains Jem's clothes from when he was attacked by Bob Ewell.  In the previous paragraph Scout has described the physician's voice as "as breezy as his step," so he has a nonchalant manner.  With no surprise in his voice, he greets Boo Radley, for instance.

Now, he turns to Scout and allays her fears about her brother: 

"You're quite satisfied he's alive, now?  Tell you how I knew.  When I tried to examine him, he kicked me."

Note that this statement is in past tense.  The doctor has checked Jem and removed his soiled clothing, covering it with newspaper to disguise the blood from Atticus and, especially Scout.  In his reassuring of Scout that Jem is all right, he says "Scat," meaning "You can run along now."  (Dr. Reynolds uses a Southern colloquialism here.)

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What is going on here is that the doctor is trying to be nice to Scout.  He wants her to leave the room so that he can examine Jem.  But he does not want to just tell her to go away -- he wants to make it clear that he understands that she is worried about her brother.

So he tells Scout that Jem is still alive and he makes a joke about how he could figure that out.  He is joking with her like that to show that he understands that she is worried.  He is telling her it is alright to be worried about her brother.  Then he tells her "scat" which is kind of a rude but slangy way to say "go away."  By being rude, he is actually being nice -- he is treating her informally to show that he really understands how she feels.

If he said "your brother will be okay, please leave," it would seem sort of cold -- like he didn't really care about her feelings.  By being informal, he is showing more caring.

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