From chapters 1-3 in To Kill a Mockingbird, what was Scout's first "crime" at school?  

From chapters 1-3 in To Kill a Mockingbird, what was Scout's first "crime" at school?



Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout's first day of school is certainly interesting and packed with drama. First, Scout doesn't seem very impressed with Miss Caroline Fisher's story about cats. Then, her teacher goes to the board and teaches the alphabet before asking Scout to recite it for the class. Her teacher continues to assess just how literate Scout is by having her read the first grade reader and then some stock-market quotations. Miss Caroline conclusively tells Scout that her father must stop teaching her how to read because he's messed everything up.

Scout protests by saying that no one taught her to read, Atticus is too tired to teach her after work, and that her brother says she was born reading. This all sounds like tall tales to her teacher, so she tells Scout not to let her imagination run away with her. One could argue that at this point, from the teacher's perspective, Scout's first crime(s) could be knowing how to read and seemingly lying about it. The teacher then dismisses Scout without further discussion by saying that her father does not know how to teach. Scout says the following:

"I mumbled that I was sorry and retired meditating upon my crime. I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers" (17).

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poor Scout. She was so excited about attending her first day of school, but by the end of the evening, she was begging Atticus not to go the next day. Her first "crime" was already knowing how to read. Miss Caroline quickly decided that Atticus "does not know how to teach" and demanded that Scout tell him "not to teach you anymore." Later that day, she had her hand spanked with Miss Caroline's ruler for defending Walter Cunningham Jr., and then she rubbed Walter's nose in the dirt in retribution. Luckily, Atticus promised that the two would continue reading just as before, and Scout returned to school the next day.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question