How does Miss Caroline contradict herself about the use of imagination in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In chapter 2, Miss Caroline begins the lesson by reading Scout's class a story about talking cats that live in a warm home beneath a kitchen stove. Scout mentions,

"Miss Caroline seemed unaware that the ragged, denim-shirted and floursack-skirted first grade, most of whom had chopped cotton and...

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In chapter 2, Miss Caroline begins the lesson by reading Scout's class a story about talking cats that live in a warm home beneath a kitchen stove. Scout mentions,

"Miss Caroline seemed unaware that the ragged, denim-shirted and floursack-skirted first grade, most of whom had chopped cotton and fed hogs from the time they were able to walk, were immune to imaginative literature" (Lee, 17).

Miss Caroline is not familiar with the community of Maycomb and expects the country children to appreciate the imaginative story. Her purpose of reading the story to the children is to inspire them to use their imaginations and discover that reading can be fun.

Later on, Miss Caroline finds out that Scout can read fluently and tells Scout that her father should not teach her anymore because it would interfere with her reading. Scout then attempts to explain to her teacher that Atticus never taught her how to read and recites Jem's fanciful explanation of how she was born with the ability to read. Miss Caroline then intervenes and tells Scout,

"Let’s not let our imaginations run away with us, dear...Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind" (Lee, 17).

Miss Caroline's comments are contradictory in several ways. Miss Caroline had just finished encouraging the children to use their imaginations while simultaneously illustrating how reading can be amusing. She then contradicts herself by criticizing Scout's use of imagination and chastises Scout's father for reading to her. Miss Caroline evidently has rigid views of education and does not understand or appreciate Scout's advanced abilities.

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Miss Caroline contradicts herelf by reading the first grade a story and yet does not allow Scout to read.

The first grade teacher Miss Caroline begins the class by reading the kids a story about talking cats.

Miss Caroline seemed unaware that the ragged, denim-shirted and floursack-skirted first grade, most of whom had chopped cotton and fed hogs from the time they were able to walk, were immune to imaginative literature. (ch 2)

Miss Caroline does not understand Maycomb.  In fact, she seems upset when she realizes Scout can read and even write.  Offended by this, she listens dubiously to Scout’s description of the connection between Finch and “bullfinch” and how she learned to read because she just did.

"Let's not let our imaginations run away with us, dear," she said. "Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind.” (ch 2)

The irony is that Scout really did learn how to read by reading.  Her father never intentionally taught her to read.  She grew up loving to read.  She did not realize reading was a bad thing until she got to school.

There is nothing at all wrong with Scout’s reading.  Miss Caroline is simply not prepared for such a precocious child.  Scout gets off on the wrong foot, and hates school from the beginning.

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