In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Scout's commentary, "While Walter piled food on his plate, he and Atticus talked together like two men, to the wonderment of Jem and me" contrast with his actions at school and what we know about the Cunningham family?

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In Chapter 3, Jem invites Walter over for dinner, and Scout narrates,

While Walter piled food on his plate, he and Atticus talked together like two men, to the wonderment of Jem and me (16).

Scout's description of Walter contrasts with his actions in school and the description of his family. During school, Walter is portrayed as a shy, respectful child who comes from a poor farming family. When Miss Caroline asks Walter Cunningham if he forgot his lunch, Walter lies to her because he is ashamed that his family cannot afford to provide him with a lunch. Miss Caroline then offers to lend Walter a quarter, which he refuses. Miss Caroline is perplexed, so Scout tries to defend Walter's actions. Instead of speaking up for himself and describing his situation, Walter quietly allows Scout to explain why he refuses to take the quarter.

In contrast, Walter seems confident and talkative during dinner. He speaks directly to Atticus like a "man," and is not shy at all. Walter also seems intelligent during his discussion with Atticus, which also contrasts with the way he is portrayed in school. In class, Walter is described as uneducated, like the majority of Scout's pupils. During dinner, Walter elaborates on the problems with the farm to Atticus, which amazes Jem and Scout.

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