Please provide 6 social norms from chapters 1-3 in To Kill a Mockingbird along with quotes that show them.   

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout's first grade teacher, Miss Caroline, learns the hard way about the ways of Maycomb County. Here are some tips for her as a newcomer if she wants to understand the social ways of her new home.

First, discussing one's ancestry and being able to prove "gentle-breeding" is a Southern way of life. Scout explains as follows:

"Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings" (3).

There is a social hierarchy in Maycomb and a person should know where he or she stands in it and act appropriately. For example, those who have owned land for multiple generations are at the top even if they don't have any money now. The Civil War upset most of the South's economy, so all they have left is their land and reputations tied to it. Also, little girls who are from gentle-breeding should wear dresses and be little rays of sunshine rather than running around in overalls playing with the boys. 

Next, many of the traditions that predate the Civil War era remain true in the 1930s. Since there is no air-conditioning, life is simply too hot, especially in the summer; so, ladies stay home and follow a strict regimen, as follows:

"Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum" (5).

Third, for entertainment purposes, check in with Miss Stephanie Crawford, the town gossip, for all the latest news on each neighbor, as well as neighborhood legends and phantoms like Arthur (Boo) Radley. Also, remember to blame Boo Radley for anything that goes wrong or missing in Maycomb:

"People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events. . . although the culprit was Crazy Addie. . . people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions" (9).

Fourth, honor the Guest-Host relationship at all times. Never insult a guest and allow him or her to do anything he or she wants in your home and at the table--even if he pours syrup all over his vegetables. Calpurnia explains:

"There's some folks who don't eat like us. .  but you ain't called on to contradict 'em at the table when they don't. That boy's yo' comp'ny and if he wants to eat up the tablecloth you let him, you hear?" (24).

Fifth, people who don't have enough to feed their families are given church baskets full of food or other supplies. The Cunninghams always refuse them:

"The Cunninghams never took anything they can't pay back--no church baskets and no scrip stamps. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have" (20).

As a result, do not offer a Cunningham a quarter for lunch because he cannot pay you back. It is also a way of insulting him because everyone knows how poor they are. Even though they are poor, they are good, honorable workers and would rather starve than owe anybody anything.

Finally, allow the Ewells to do whatever they want, such as attend only one day of school each year, swear at the teacher, dig around in the dump for food, and hunt out of season, because the father drinks away any money the family receives from their relief checks. Atticus explains as follows:

"In certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming blind to some of the Ewells' activities. . . but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains" (31).

 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question