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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How does the way Atticus regards Walter differ from the way Scout does?

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Walter Cunningham came to the first day of school without lunch.  His teacher, Miss Caroline, offered to give him a quarter for lunch.  He refused to take it.  Scout explained to her teacher that "the Cunninghams never took anything they can't pay back—no church baskets and no scrip stamps" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 2).  Miss Caroline thought that Scout was back talking, and she was punished.  Angry, Scout blamed Walter and started to beat him up.  Jem stopped her and invited Walter over for lunch.

At the Finch house, Atticus carried on a conversation with Walter over the lunch table.  He treated Walter with respect even though the boy's table manners left much to be desired.  Walter requested syrup, and proceeded to dump it on all the food on his plate.  Scout was appalled.  She pointed out how strange it was, and Calpurnia pulled her aside.  Scout told Calpurnia that she did not consider Walter to be company.  Calpurnia was not pleased and she scolded Scout:

"Hush your mouth!  Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty!"  (Chapter 3)

Atticus treated Walter like an honored guest.  He treated the boy with respect.  Scout, on the contrary, pointed out Walter's faults and made it clear that she did not consider him to be company.

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