In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are Scout's three mistakes that make Miss Caroline so angry?

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mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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In Chapter 2, Scout makes several mistakes that upset Miss Caroline. Scout’s first mistake is reading aloud, which is frowned upon by Miss Caroline. Scout is asked to read the alphabet, most of My First Reader, and quotations from The Mobile Register. (2.22) Miss Caroline tells Scout that her father should stop teaching her how to read because it will interfere with her reading. Miss Caroline believes that children should “begin reading with a fresh mind.”

The second mistake Scout makes happens during a reading lesson, when Miss Caroline is holding up flashcards for the class. Scout is bored and decides to write  a letter to Dill. Miss Caroline catches Scout writing the letter and tells her that her father should stop teaching her how to write. Miss Caroline believes that first graders should only “print” because writing is taught in the third grade.

The third mistake Scout makes happens at lunchtime when Miss Caroline attempts to lend Walter Cunningham a quarter to buy a lunch. Scout tries to explain Walter’s financial situation and how the Cunninghams never take what they can’t pay back. Scout fails to convey the information to Miss Caroline and says, “You’re shamin’ him, Miss Caroline. Walter hasn’t got a quarter at home to bring you, and you can’t use any stovewood.” (2.28) After Scout’s comment, Miss Caroline tells Scout that she has had enough out of her this morning. Miss Caroline gives Scout a dozen little pats with a ruler as a punishment. The entire class bursts out laughing at Miss Caroline’s attempt to punish Scout. 

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