In To Kill A Mockingbird, Walter refuses money from Miss Caroline. What is it that Scout tries to explain to Miss Caroline?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout tries to explain why Walter Cunningham will not take lunch money from Miss. Caroline. Scout understand the rules of living in Maycomb. Walter only had his pride. He did not have much money. When Miss Caroline tried to give him a quarter for lunch, he refused. He knew he could not take anything that he could not pay back. Since he had no money with which to pay Miss Caroline, he refused to accept her charity. 

Miss Caroline took this as disrespectful and unappreciative. Scout tries to explain to Miss Caroline why Walter reacted the way he did. She tries to tell her that Walter will not take “anything off of anybody.” Miss Caroline does not receive Scout's help. She refuses to listen to Scout. She even spanks Scout's hand.

Scout was only trying to get Miss Caroline to be sensitive to Walter's need to keep his pride. After all, that is all that Walter has--his pride. Walter would not take Miss Caroline's quarter because he did not have a quarter at home with which to pay her back. Scout tried to explain that Miss Caroline was embarrassing Walter:

"You're shamin' him, Miss Caroline. Walter hasn't got a quarter at home to bring you, and you can't use any stovewood."

Miss Caroline learns the hard way. Scout finds her crying when the other children have gone to lunch. Scout would have felt sorry for her if Miss Caroline would have appreciated Scout's help:

“Had her conduct been more friendly toward me, I would have felt sorry for her.”