What frightens Miss Caroline? Based on context clues, what do you think a “cootie” is?

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One could argue that Miss Caroline is frightened of her own lack of teaching ability as much as anything. She's way out of her depth teaching a first grade class and so doesn't quite know how to deal with the children. Because of this, she makes a big mistake in...

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One could argue that Miss Caroline is frightened of her own lack of teaching ability as much as anything. She's way out of her depth teaching a first grade class and so doesn't quite know how to deal with the children. Because of this, she makes a big mistake in offering to lend the dirt-poor Walter Cunningham a quarter for his lunch money. As Miss Caroline doesn't know anything about his background, she doesn't realize just what an insulting gesture this is to a member of the fiercely proud Cunningham clan. Scout helpfully tries to point this out to Miss Caroline, but all she gets is a rap across the hand with a ruler for her trouble.

The very prim, well-dressed Miss Caroline is also more than a little spooked at the large colony of "cooties," or hair-lice, that thrives on top of Burris Ewell's head. When she sees one of the little critters crawling out of Burris's filthy, matted hair, she jumps up and screams in terror.

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In Chapter 3, Miss Caroline is teaching when suddenly a tiny bug jumps out of Burris Ewell's hair. The small bug scares Miss Caroline who steps back and begins to scream. Initially, the students find her reaction amusing, and Little Chuck Little informs her that it is only a "cootie" before getting her a cool glass of water. A "cootie" is simply a slang term for a small bug, in particular, a head louse. Scout goes on to mention that Burris Ewell is the dirtiest person she has ever seen. Miss Caroline finally settles down and tells Burris that he needs to go home and wash up. Burris then disrespects Miss Caroline and begins to call her rude names before he leaves the classroom.

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