In chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs makes several derogatory remarks on the playground about Atticus, which infuriate Scout even though she doesn't understand the meaning of Cecil's insults. Later that night, Scout asks her father what Cecil Jacobs meant by saying he "defended niggers." Atticus proceeds to explain that he will be defending a black man named Tom Robinson despite the community's negative opinions of this decision. Atticus then encourages Scout not to retaliate when others say negative things about him. Atticus tells Scout,
"You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change . . . it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning." (Lee, 78)
The next day on the playground, Scout approaches Cecil Jacobs and asks if he is going to take back what he said about Atticus. When Cecil Jacobs responds by telling Scout that his parents think Atticus is a disgrace and that Tom Robinson should hang from a water-tank, Scout remembers her father's advice and walks away. Scout elaborates on the reason she chose to walk away from Cecil Jacobs by saying,
Somehow, if I fought Cecil I would let Atticus down. Atticus so rarely asked Jem and me to do something for him, I could take being called a coward for him. (Lee, 79)
Essentially, Scout walks away from Cecil Jacobs and does not physically retaliate because she does not want to let her father down.