Everyone in Maycomb knows the Cunninghams are a very proud family. They may be dirt poor, but they are disinclined to accept any free handouts. They will never accept any favors from anybody unless they can repay it. Since they can rarely afford to pay money, the family repays people...
Everyone in Maycomb knows the Cunninghams are a very proud family. They may be dirt poor, but they are disinclined to accept any free handouts. They will never accept any favors from anybody unless they can repay it. Since they can rarely afford to pay money, the family repays people in the products of their labor.
Since Walter knows that this philosophy is part of being a Cunningham and realizes that he will not be able to repay the quarter on offer, he refuses to take it. Miss Caroline is new to the town and does not know of their tradition. She sees Walter's response as rude and is quite annoyed with him. Scout is urged to enlighten Miss Caroline about their ways and when she does so in Walter's defense, Miss Caroline, who had already been irked by her on a previous occasion, decides to punish her.
It is for this reason that Scout later rubs Walter's nose in the sand; she believes that he brought trouble upon her. Jem saves the boy from his sister's vengeance and invites him home for dinner. In this instance, Jem displays the qualities Atticus has inculcated in his children. Scout is still too young and naive to understand her father's philosophy and responds on an emotional level.
It is clear that Atticus has taught his children not to discriminate, and Scout's action in this particular situation in some way foreshadows her intervention later in chapter 15, when she speaks to Walter's dad in front of the jailhouse where Tom Robinson is incarcerated. Mr. Cunningham is part of a lynch mob intent on removing Tom and executing their brand of justice. Her father has been aware of the threat and is outside the prison, keeping watch, when they arrive.
Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham and goes to speak to him about his son and his entailment. Her action prevents a serious confrontation and probably saves both her father and Tom from serious harm. Mr. Cunningham responds to her and asks the mob to leave, which is exactly what they do.