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When Dill left Maycomb in early September in order to return to his hometown of Meridian, Scout was depressed for a time; however, her depression was replaced with happiness and excitement when she realized that she would be starting school in just a few days. In the first paragraph of Chapter 20, Scout's enthusiasm for school is made evident when she says:
I never looked forward more to anything in my life. Hours of wintertime had found me in the treehouse, looking over at the schoolyard, spying on multitudes of children through a two-power telescope Jem had given me, learning their games, following Jem's red jacket through wriggling circles of blind man's bluff, secretly sharing their misfortunes and minor victories. I longed to join them.
Unfortunately, Scout's enjoyment of school was short lived; on the first day alone, she was criticized for being literate, punished for trying to explain Walter Cunningham's behavior, reprimanded by Calpurnia for treating Walter poorly, and informed that she could not receive her education at home (plus a few other inconveniences). Had it not been for Atticus's excellent fathering and his recognition of those things that mattered to his daughter, Scout probably would have been extremely unhappy returning to school; however, Atticus and Scout came to "an agreement reached by mutual concessions" which resulted in Scout's continuing her formal education.
At the beginning of Chapter 2 after Scout and Jem see Dill off to Mississippi, Scout copes with missing her friend by thinking of school. She says,
". . .I would be starting to school in a week. I never looked forward more to anything in my life" (15).
This statement is part of Scout's characterization. She is a precocious, mature-for-her-age little girl who longs to associate with older children like Jem. The narrator's attitude toward school also serves as a way for Lee to satirize the educational system of her day. Children are sent to school excited about learning, and in Lee's view, the system drains that love of learning from them and replaces it with boredom and useless information (i.e., Miss Caroline's teaching).
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