Why does Atticus not want Scout to tell Miss Caroline about their compromise? What does this indicate about Atticus' character? Chapter 3

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After Scout's rough first day of school, she comes home and laments to her father about her difficult situation. Scout begs Atticus to allow her not to go to school and mentions that Miss Caroline prohibits her from reading books at home with him. Atticus then makes a compromise with his daughter by agreeing to secretly read to her if she attends school. Before Scout leaves the house, Atticus tells her,

"By the way, Scout, you’d better not say anything at school about our agreement...I’m afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities" (Lee, 32).

Atticus does not want Scout to tell Miss Caroline about their agreement because he does not want to upset her teacher. Atticus realizes that Miss Caroline is being ridiculous by prohibiting Scout from reading at home but is also wary to not upset her, which would only cause Scout more grief. Atticus also does not want to come across as arrogant or superior by openly criticizing Miss Caroline's teaching methods and blatantly disobeying her orders. By bending the rules and making a secret compromise with Scout, Atticus is demonstrates his independent, considerate nature. Atticus understands that the compromise will motivate his daughter to attend school and is one of his many decisions that depict him as a thoughtful parent.

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Atticus makes this deal with Scout in order for them to keep reading together.  If Scout tells Miss Caroline, who is a not only a new teacher but also new to Maycomb (she is from northern Alabama), she would continue to punish Scout.  Atticus obviously does not want this.  It likely reveals that Atticus recognizes Miss Caroline's need to appear like she is in control of Scout's education.  Remember, she is making a big deal about bringing 'new' education ideas to Maycomb's school, notice Jem's reference to the Dewey Decimal System.  Miss Caroline is unfamiliar with the families of Maycomb and their ways.  Had she known Atticus at all, she would have realized that no one in Maycomb holds education in a greater light than he does.  However, he realizes that Scout is special - as is their time together spent reading the paper each evening, which is why he has her keep quiet about their deal.  This reveals too how crafty Atticus is.  He is willing to keep things quiet to please everyone.

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