Why did Burris Ewell only come to school on the first day?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Burris Ewell only came to school on the first day because his truancy officer required him to be in attendance one-day out of the school year. After Miss Caroline witnesses a "cootie" crawl out of Burris' hair, she tells him to bathe before coming to school the next day. Burris responds by saying, "I was on the verge of leavin'---I done done my time for this year." (Lee 35) Scout tries to explain Burris' situation and tells Miss Caroline that school attendance throughout the year is not required for the Ewells. When Miss Caroline asks about Burris' parents, the class tells her that the Ewell family has no mother and their father is "contentious." Burris proudly states that he's been coming to school on the first day for three straight years, and never attends any other days of school. Burris then argues with Miss Caroline after she tells him to sit down and threatens to report him to the principal. As Burris is leaving the school, he shouts insults toward Miss Caroline, which make her cry.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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