In To Kill a Mockingbird, how did Scout respond to Cecil's name calling?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Cecil's persistent habit of repeating to Scout the hateful things he hears at home about Atticus tests Scout's patience to the limit. Atticus has forbidden her to fight, but Scout finds his words enormously difficult to remember when Cecil criticizes her father. When Cecil declares one day in the schoolyard that "Scout Finch's daddy defended niggers," Scout goes home to get the truth from Atticus. After Atticus explains that "nigger" is a word she is not ever to use, he then explains why it is important that he help Tom Robinson. 

Facing Cecil the next day, Scout manages to control her temper, but not without difficulty:

I drew a bead on [Cecil], remembered what Atticus had said, then dropped by fists and walked away, "Scout's a coward!" ringing in my ears. It was the first time I ever walked away from a fight.

Scout feels good about walking away from Cecil because she did not "let Atticus down." She feels "extremely noble." This lasts three weeks until she beats up her irritating cousin Francis at Finch's Landing.



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