Chapter 1. The first part of the opening chapter serves as exposition for the history of the Finch family, charting the life of family patriarch Simon Finch and concluding with the narrator's father, Atticus, a lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama. It introduces the main characters: Atticus's son, Jem; his daughter, Scout (the narrator); and the newly-arrived summer visitor, Dill Harris. The chapter also introduces one of the novel's main plots--the children's growing interest in their reclusive neighbor, the unseen "malevolent phantom," Boo Radley.
Chapter 2. The chapter revolves around Scout's first day at school and the great expectations she has: "I never looked forward more to anything in my life." But things don't go well for Scout. Although she is obviously the brightest child in her first grade class (she reads well above her grade level and can already write cursive), her first-year teacher Miss Caroline immediately takes a disliking to her. By lunchtime, Scout has already been sent to the corner and "whipped" by Miss Caroline with a ruler.
Chapter 3. Scout blames one of her classmates, Walter Cunningham Jr., for her problems with Miss Caroline, so she spent the first part of lunch break "rubbing his nose in the dirt" of the schoolyard. Jem breaks up the fight, chastizing Scout for being " 'bigger'n he is...' " Jem invites Walter home for lunch, and Scout gets into more trouble when she insults her guest for having " 'drowned his dinner in syrup... He's poured it all over--' " The family housekeeper, Calpurnia, gives Scout a lesson in manners and how to treat company before sending her back to school. Scout spends part of class observing the bad behavior of Burris Ewell, who calls Miss Caroline a " 'snot-nosed slut' " before storming out of the classroom, leaving the teacher in tears. When Scout announces that night that she wants to quit school, Atticus proposes a compromise: Scout will return to school the next day and the two will continue reading together each night. Atticus also offers Scout some good advice on how to deal with people.
"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." (Chapter 3)