Why Does Scout Stand Up For Walter

In "To Kill a Mockingbird", why does Scout explain Walter Cunningham's situation to Miss Caroline?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Scout explains to her teacher Miss Caroline that Walter is too proud to borrow money because she tries to lend him a quarter for lunch.

Miss Caroline is not from Maycomb.  She is from Northern Alabama and does not understand how things work.  When Miss Caroline sees that Walter has no lunch, she tries to lend him a quarter and he won’t take it.  When she does not get the message and keeps asking, someone tells Scout to explain.

I turned around and saw most of the town people and the entire bus delegation looking at me. Miss Caroline and I had conferred twice already, and they were looking at me in the innocent assurance that familiarity breeds understanding. (ch 2)

The other children seem to think that Scout is going to be able to explain, because she has tried to do so before.  Since Scout is the daughter of a lawyer, and quiet precocious, she seems to be the person for the job. 

Of course, Miss Caroline does not really appreciate Scout’s guidance.  It is her first day, and she is a new teacher.  Apparently when they taught her the Dewey system they forgot to mention that the first rule of teaching is to get to know your students and the community.

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troutmiller's profile pic

troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Scout had already spoken to Miss Caroline that first day about her reading.  When Miss Caroline asked Walter about his lunch, the other kids looked to Scout.  She says,

"I turned around and saw most of the town people and the entire bus delegation looking at me.  Miss Caroline and I had conferred twice already and they were looking at me in the innocent assurance that familiarity breeds understanding."

So Scout stood up and told her what she thought Miss Caroline would understand.  When she said Walter was a  Cunningham, to Maycomb people, that means he's a farmer and has very little.  To an outsider like Miss Caroline, that meant nothing, and it embarrassed her.

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