In To Kill A Mockingbird why did Scout fight her cousin after the Christmas dinner at Finch's Landing?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Scout fought with her cousin Francis at Christmas because he insulted her father for defending Tom Robinson.

During the Christmas holiday, the Finch family visit the family homestead, Finch’s Landing, to see Aunt Alexandra and cousin Francis.  Scout does not get along with either Alexandra or her grandson.  Francis, who is eight, is an annoying tattletale.

Talking to Francis gave me the sensation of settling slowly to the bottom of the ocean. He was the most boring child I ever met. (Ch. 9)

Francis calls Dill a “runt” and a stray dog, but really angers Scout is when he repeats to her something he heard Alexandra say, calling Atticus a “nigger-lover.”  He tells her that Atticus is ruining the family name, and she wallops him. 

Uncle Jack sees the fighting between Scout and Francis and does not know what it is about.  Since he told Scout he’d spank her if she swore, he does so.  She gets upset at the unfairness of it, given what Francis said to her.  All in all, Jack learns a thing or two about children when he finds out what really happened between the two of them.

The argument between Scout and Francis demonstrates how far the racism reaches.  Atticus defending a black man is a point of contention within his own family, to the point where his family considers it wrong for him to do his job.  Scout does not understand what her father is doing wrong, but she does not tolerate Francis insulting him.  This incident is just one of many for her, and things will get much worse later.  She is about to find out that not everyone considers her father a hero.

We also find that Alexandra considers Atticus a traitor, if Francis reports accurately.

“…Grandma says it's bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he's turned out a nigger-lover we'll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin…” (Ch. 9)

Alexandra considers the Finches above everyone else.  While Atticus considers being a good person defending an innocent man, Alexandra considers him a race-traitor.  She is horrified that he would besmudge the family name this way.  Many people in Maycomb will now look down on him, and on her, because he is defending a black man.  Scout also faces discrimination and criticism as his daughter because of his choices.  Atticus is aware of this, but he still feels what he is doing is right and is trying to teach his children to stand up for what they believe in even when it is unpopular.

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amysor's profile pic

amysor | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Scout fought her cousin because of what her cousin said. In the heat of an arguement, her cousin called Atticus a "nigger-lover". Scout wasn't too sure what it meant, but she knew it wasn't nice, so she fought her cousin. Scout took the heat for the arguement when she was yelled at. She later asks Atticus what a nigger-lover is. This is the start of the discrimination the Finch family recieves with Atticus taking the case.

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