Why did Scout think Uncle Jack was being unfair when he spanked her in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 9, Scout and her family get together at Finch's Landing to celebrate the holidays. Her cousin named Francis Hancock makes several derogatory remarks about Atticus. Francis provokes Scout by telling her,

If Uncle Atticus lets you run around with stray dogs, that’s his own business, like Grandma says, so it ain’t your fault. I guess it ain’t your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I’m here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family— (Lee, 85).

Unfortunately, Scout cannot contain her anger and ends up punching Francis directly in the mouth. Uncle Jack breaks up the fight and spanks Scout for punching her cousin. When Scout's family returns home, she immediately runs into her room and slams the door. Uncle Jack then attempts to have a conversation with Scout about her actions, and she tells her uncle, "You ain't fair" (Lee, 88). Scout proceeds to tell Uncle Jack that he never gave her a chance to explain her side of the story before spanking her. Scout also reminds Uncle Jack that he said she should only curse during times of extreme provocation. She then tells her uncle what Francis said about Atticus, and he becomes furious. Before Uncle Jack can speak to Alexandra or Francis, Scout begs him not to say anything, and he ends up keeping his promise.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scout's Uncle Jack arrived on the scene as she was giving her cousin Francis a good pounding during the Finch family's visit to Finch's Landing. Francis had repeatedly called Scout (and Atticus) a "nigger-lover," and she finally decided to put an end to it.

... I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth. My left impaired, I sailed in with my right...

Uncle Jack didn't bother to ask why the two were fighting; instead, he broke them up and, while

Aunt Alexandra ministered to Francis, wiping his tears away with her handkerchief, rubbing his hair, patting his cheek...

Uncle Jack began spanking Scout. Scout was angry because Jack had not

"stopped to gimme a chance to tell my side of it--you just lit right into me."

Once Scout had explained, Uncle Jack was ready to punish Francis, too, but Scout made him promise to "just let it go." Jack later apologized to Atticus for having "romped on her," but Atticus only "chuckled."

     "I shall never marry, Atticus."
     "Why?"
     "I might have children."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial