When Scout wants to beat up Walter, what alternative does Jem suggest?"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Three of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, Scout has made a bad impression on her new teacher, Miss Caroline because she has tried to explain why Walter Cunningham does not have a lunch, and he will not accept charity, either.  Miss Caroline, however, does not appreciate Scout's explanations, telling her she is "starting off on the wrong foot in every way"; she even makes Scout hold out her hand for it to be spanked.

So, when Scout catches Walter in the schoolyard, she rubs his nose in the dirt, but Jem tells her to stop.  After Scout explains that Walter has not had any lunch, Jem suggests inviting him to their house:

'Come on home to dinnerwith us, Walter,' he said. 'We'd be glad to have you.'

Scout counters that she would not be too certain of that.  The irony of her remark is that it is Scout herself who suffers as a result of bringing home Walter.  For, she insults Walter inadvertently when she explains to Calpurnia that Walter is "just a Cunningham."  Calpurnia corrects her, telling her that anyone who "set foot in this house's yo' comp'ny"; Calpurnia gives Scout instructions in real manners.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 2 and 3 of the book, Scout comes into conflict with Walter Cunningham.  She is angry at him because he has refused her attempts at charity and because she has been punished by the teacher.  When she tries to beat him up, Jem stops her.  Jem's idea, oddly enough, is for Walter to come home and have dinner with the Fitch family.

By bringing Walter home, Jem is showing that the Fitch family accepts people of all classes in Maycomb society.  Atticus shows the same thing by treating Walter as an equal even though he is poor.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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