In To Kill A Mockingbird, Miss Caroline sent Burris Ewell home because he had lice. What effect did her instructions have upon him? (chapter 3)   

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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To Kill A Mockingbird explores the effects of racial prejudice, stereotyping and ignorance in Maycomb County, a town where "folks make assumptions based on race." The town is convinced that Tom Robinson must be guilty, despite the compelling evidence which Atticus presents showing that Tom never attacked or raped Mayella Ewell and especially in light of the Ewell family's reputation.

Burris Ewell is Mayella's brother and the family is despised by everyone in the town. They are aggressive and uncouth and Burris is no exception. In chapter three, Miss Caroline is horrified to discover lice, or "cooties" as the children call them, in Burris's hair. Her over-reaction is not a problem for "Little Chuck," however, who tries to calm her down. Miss Caroline is new at the school and she has no idea that the Ewell family do not follow rules and they certainly do not stay in school. So her suggestion that Burris should go home, wash his hair and take a bath before returning "tomorrow," is not well received.  

Burris tells Miss Caroline that he was about to leave anyway and he doesn't need her permission:

"Been comin‘ to the first day o’ the first grade fer three year now,” he said expansively. “Reckon if I’m smart this year they’ll promote me to the second…" (Ch 3)

Burris is quite proud of the information he shares. However, he soon loses his patience and has no regard for his teacher. Respect is not a word he knows or understands. He has no problem showing his contempt when he says, "You try and make me, missus" (Ch 3) and goes on to swear at her. The other children are not surprised by his behavior and try to appease Miss Caroline when she starts to cry at his rudeness. 

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