How does Miss Caroline Fisher feel at the end of her first day in To Kill a Mockingbird? How do you know?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a former teacher who taught many students far worse than Burris Ewell over the years, I know that Miss Caroline was at her wits' end following her tumultuous first day. Miss Caroline came into class a little too cocky and a little too presumptuous when it came to dealing with her young students, most of whom were attending school for the first time. Miss Caroline made many mistakes, one of which was criticizing Scout for being able to read and write--cursive, no less--and then assuming that Atticus--perhaps the most intelligent man in the town--was incapable of teaching his daughter. Although Miss Caroline was duly versed in many modern teaching methods, she failed to take into account the type of students she was teaching. Several, including Walter and Burris, were repeating the first grade. She didn't seem to realize that many of the students couldn't afford lunch money or have the proper parental supervision to bathe regularly. She was unable to control the noise in her class, prompting another teacher to threaten her with burning the class with "everybody in it." The class filed out for lunch break with Miss Caroline burying "her head in her arms."

Things got even worse after lunch. She screamed aloud upon seeing lice in Burris' hair; he responded by calling her a "snot-nosed slut." Little Chuck Little nearly pulled a knife to defend her from Burris, and Miss Caroline began crying again. The children felt sorry for her though, and after they encouraged her a bit, she blew her nose, and said "Thank you, darlings," before reading them a story from Wind in the Willows.  

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Caroline has a difficult first day of teaching in the town of Maycomb. Scout mentions that Miss Caroline is a native of Winston County and she is not familiar with the families of Maycomb. Throughout the day, Miss Caroline has several incidents with Scout and ends up punishing her after Scout gets an attitude about Walter refusing to accept her quarter. After Miss Caroline swats Scout's palm with her ruler, the entire class bursts out laughing and causes a disruption. The neighboring teacher, Miss Blount, walks into Miss Caroline's classroom and chastises the class for being too loud. After Miss Blount leaves, Scout notices Miss Caroline sink in her seat and bury her head in her arms, which signifies that she is overwhelmed and exhausted.

Later on that day, Miss Caroline spots a cootie crawl out of Burris Ewell's hair, which startles and disgusts her. After she instructs Burris to go home and wash his hair, Burris gets an attitude with her. When Miss Caroline threatens to send him to the principal, Burris calls her a "snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher." Scout's classmates then console their teacher by listening to her read a story about a toadfrog that lived in a hall.

Overall, Miss Caroline has a rough first day. She argues with Scout, has a difficult time reprimanding her students, gets embarrassed when another teacher enters her room, and gets cussed out by one of her unruly students. By the end of the day, Miss Caroline is exhausted, upset, and overwhelmed. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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