In "To Kill a Mockingbird", what lesson does Scout learn from Burris Ewell was in the classroom?What lesson did Jem learn when the knot-hole was cemented up? What lesson does Scout learn...

In "To Kill a Mockingbird", what lesson does Scout learn from Burris Ewell was in the classroom?

What lesson did Jem learn when the knot-hole was cemented up? What lesson does Scout learn regarding Burris Ewell's frequent absences from school?

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Scout becomes confused during school because she does not understand why the Ewells are "allowed" to miss school, breaking the rules, while she "must" attend school and follow the rules. Scout feels an injustice has been done to her. The lesson she learns has meaning on several levels. Through her father's explanation she realizes that school is the right place for children to be. She will also come to understand that the Ewell children are not getting away with anything. It is obvious that their family life puts little value on education, as well as other social morals. She ultimately learns that some people do not respect themselves, that being the case the concept of right and wrong mean nothing to them.

When the knot-hole was cemented up Jem learned just how cruel human beings could be. Mr. Nathan sealed up the hole knowing that Boo was leaving small gifts for the children, and deliberately cut off Boo's attempts to connect and forge a relationship with others. Jem also realizes how wrong he was in his opinion of Boo Radley. The experience, although sad for Boo actually allowed Jem to see a life experience from another point of view. It humbled him to the plight of others.

katemschultz's profile pic

katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Scout didn't necessarily learn something from Burris; she learned from Atticus later. Scout cites Burris as a reference as to why she doesn't have to go back to school--the Ewells don't have to go to school. Atticus explains to Scout that for some people, in special circumstances, the rules need to be bent. It's the difference between treating everyone fairly (giving everyone the same thing) and giving each person what s/he needs.

When Nathan Radley cemented up the knot-hole, Jem comes to terms with a few things. First of all, he realizes that Boo has little to no control over his own fate and interaction with the neighborhood; Nathan holds Boo in an iron grip. Nathan tells Jem that he (Nathan) is cementing the hole because the tree is dying. When Jem asks Atticus about the tree, Atticus says the tree looks fine. This teaches Jem that not all adults tell the truth all the time, and not all adults are trustworthy.

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