What did Scout do that upset Walter Cunningham as he had a meal in the Finch house?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter Cunningham came over to the Finch house for lunch.  The meal consisted of meat, vegetables, and a glass of milk.  Atticus and Walter discussed topics like farming.  They all began eating, and Walter requested syrup.  Calpurnia brought some out in a pitcher, and Walter proceeded to cover his food with the brown liquid.  Scout stared in shock.  She asked Walter "what the sam hill he was doing" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 3).  He suddenly became aware that pouring syrup on his food might be questionable.  Walter became embarrassed:

The silver saucer clattered when he replaced the pitcher, and he quickly put his hands in his lap.  Then he ducked his head.

Scout did not seem to notice Walter's embarrassment.  She loudly protested about the syrup incident before her father and Calpurnia stopped her.  Calpurnia called Scout to the kitchen.  When Scout got into the kitchen, she discovered that Calpurnia was livid.  She scolded Scout:

"There's some folks who don't eat like us," she whispered fiercely, "but you ain't called on to contradict 'em at the table when they don't."

Calpurnia wanted to make it clear that guests in their home were to be treated with respect, regardless of their table manners or eating habits.  

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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