What are some of the innocent mistakes that Scout makes, in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird? How are ideas of good and bad, right or wrong, manners, and politeness expressed in the story? Reflect...

What are some of the innocent mistakes that Scout makes, in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird? How are ideas of good and bad, right or wrong, manners, and politeness expressed in the story? Reflect on your own experiences from kindergarten or first grade.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In chapters 2 and 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout has started the first grade. This is her first year at school, and she had high hopes that it was going to be fun to be in school. However, she soon realizes that she is starting out on the wrong foot with her new teacher, Miss Caroline. When Miss Caroline offers Walter Cunningham a quarter for lunch, Scout is the one to let Miss Caroline know about the Cunninghams.

"Miss Caroline, he's a Cunningham." I thought I had made things sufficiently clear. It was clear enough to the rest of us. Walter Cunningham was sitting there lying his head off. He didn't forget his lunch, he didn't have any. He had none today nor would he have any tomorrow or the next day. He had probably never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life. "Walter's one of the Cunningham's, Miss Caroline."
"I beg your pardon, Jean Louise?"
"That's okay, ma'am, you'll get to know all the county folks after a while. The Cunninghams' never took anything they can't pay back- no church baskets and no scrip stamp. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have. They don't have much, but they get along on it."

Scout thought she was helping Walter by telling Miss Caroline the family's situation, but she ends up getting in trouble. When she gets to go outside, she gets in a fight with Walter, but Jem stops her and invites Walter to come home with them for lunch. Once they are at the table, Walter pours syrup all of over his food. Scout asks out loud what in the world he is doing. Atticus tries to make her stop, but Calpurnia calls her into the kitchen.

"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. That boy's yo' comp'ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear?"
"He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham-"
"Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch your remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo' folks might be better 'n the Cunningham's but it don't count for nothing' the way you're disgracin' 'em- if you can't act fit to eat at the table you can just set here and eat in the kitchen!"

Cal is trying to show Scout how you treat a guest in your house: it doesn't matter who or what they are, you treat them with respect. If you think back to when we were that age, there were times when we said whatever came to our minds. It didn't matter if it hurt someone's feelings, we just said it. We probably heard our parents or other adults saying something in private, then when we had the chance, we let it slip. It is a natural thing for young children to say things like this, but in this case, Scout has Calpurnia and Atticus to teach her the right way of treating people.

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iamkaori's profile picture

iamkaori | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) Salutatorian

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One of the innocent mistake she makes is when she invites Walter Cunningham to dinner. She sees that Walter is pouring a lot of syrup on his food, and questions why he is doing so. This causes Walter to feel embarrassed, which is an example of an innocent mistake for she did not think this to be anything inappropriate, but her innocent curiosity had driven her to inquire and thus offend Walter.

The ideas you mentioned are often expressed in the Maycomb citizens' action and Atticus's teachings and words. An example of this is when Scout is being made fun of for her father being a 'nigger-lover'. She gets into a fight with this classmate. Later Atticus tells her that she has to be strong and ignore this sort of commentary. 

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