What is Scout's relationship with Walter Cunningham in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Scout gets to know both of the Walter Cunninghams during the course of To Kill a Mockingbird. On her first day of school, Scout discovers that Walter Jr. is one of her classmates. She tries to defend him when Miss Caroline questions him about having no lunch money, but Scout only ends up being "spanked" with a ruler and sitting in the corner. She takes out her frustrations at lunch by pounding Walter in the schoolyard, but when Jem breaks up the one-sided fight, they invite Walter to lunch. Scout gets in more trouble, this time with Calpurnia, when she embarrasses Walter by pointing out that all food should not be drenched in molasses. Walter serves as the subject of one of Scout's lessons about intolerance when Atticus tells her that

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

As the third grade approaches, Scout decides to invite Walter over again for lunch, and she looks forward to seeing him during the upcoming year. But Aunt Alexandra objects, and she forbids Walter from the house,

"Because--he--is--trash..."

Walter and his people from Old Sarum serve as a comparison to the Ewell family: Alexandra sees little difference between the two families, but Jem and Scout recognize that Walter is different from Burris Ewell.

"That Walter's as smart as he can be... Nothin's wrong with him."

To Scout, Walter is just "Folks"--just like the Finches.

Scout also gets to meet Walter's father up close when he and a group of men confront Atticus at the jail. Scout's innocent little talk with Walter Sr. convinces the man to leave the jail and forget about their plans to lynch Tom Robinson.

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