In "To Kill a Mockingbird" why does Scout say, "He ain't company Cal just a Cunnigham"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout feels that the Cunninghams are a class below her, and "company" is a fancy word referring to honored guests that are to be treated with respect and politeness.  Whenever parents usually refer to company, it is in the sense of "We've got company coming, so you'd better behave yourself!"  All etiquette, manners, dress, and behavior are supposed to be at their best in the presence of company.  But Walter is just a poor, dirty, little kid, and a Cunningham to boot.  Scout doesn't think that she should have to behave like his is "official" company, because she looks down on him a bit, pities him, and he's just a poor kid that they invited over for lunch.

Because of her attitude, she is a bit rude to poor Walter as he drowns his food in syrup.  Scout is tactlessly commenting on the syrup situation when Cal hauls her out of the room and tries to teach her a lesson in politeness;  Scout doesn't quite get it, and hence her remark.  But, she obeys anyway.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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