What are the symbolic pairs in Chapters Two and Three of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

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This is an interesting question. The introduction of both Walter Cunninghams--father and son--serve to describe one of Maycomb's poorest but honest families; the relatively minor characters will appear later in the novel--Walter Sr. at the crucial lynch mob scene at the jail, and Walter Jr. as a divisive factor between Scout and her Aunt Alexandra. Other pairings found in these chapters include:

  • Little Chuck Little and Burris Ewell.  Both of the children come from dirt-poor families, but that is their only similarity. Burris is a chip-off-the-old-block of his father, Bob: He is dirty, vulgar and illiterate. When Burris threatens Miss Caroline, the chivalric Little Chuck comes to the rescue. Scout obviously admires Little Chuck, who defends his teacher, reaching for his pocket knife and promising Burris that "I'd as soon's kill you as look at you."

He was among the most diminutive of men... but he was a born gentleman.

  • Miss Caroline and Atticus.  Miss Caroline, Scout's inexperienced first grade teacher, demands that Atticus quit educating his daughter since "Your father does not know how to teach." It is the first example in the novel of how Scout will gain greater knowledge and understanding outside the classroom than from within. Atticus manages to convince Scout to return to Miss Caroline's class the next day with the promise of a compromise: They will continue to read together each night, but they will not tell Miss Caroline. Although Atticus, probably the most intelligent man in Maycomb, never attended public schools, he knows that a proper education--even from teachers like Miss Caroline--is essential for his own children.
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