Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Chapter 2 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Who is Scout’s first grade teacher?

2. What is the Dewey Decimal System?

3. What events lead to the conflict between Scout and Miss Caroline?

4. Why is Mrs. Blount, the sixth-grade teacher, angry with Miss Caroline?

5. How does Scout learn to read?

6. The students in the class show some prejudice against Miss Caroline when she tells the class she is from Winston County, Alabama. Explain this prejudice.

7. How does Miss Caroline contradict herself about the use of imagination?

8. How does Miss Caroline contradict herself in her views on teaching reading?

9. How does Scout learn to write?

10. Describe the Cunningham family.

1. Miss Caroline is Scout’s first-grade teacher.

2. The Dewey Decimal System is a way of arranging library books and materials. It is not a way to teach reading, as Jem mistakenly explains.

3. Scout finds disfavor with Miss Caroline, first of all, when she reads aloud from The Mobile Register and from My First Reader. Later, when Scout tries to explain the Cunningham philosophy, she angers Miss Caroline even more.

4. Miss Blount says the sixth grade cannot concentrate on their study of the pyramids because of the noise in the first-grade class. She is angry with Miss Caroline Fisher for allowing—and possibly contributing to—the chaos.

5. Scout learns to read by climbing into Atticus’s lap and watching his finger move underneath the print of whatever he might be reading.

6. Miss Caroline is from North Alabama, from Winston County. On January 11, 1861, when Alabama seceded from the Union, Winston County did not condone this action; it seceded from Alabama. The rest of the state was still angry with Winston County 70 years later. In addition, the rest of the state believed that the county “was full of Liquor Interests, Big Mules, steel companies, Republicans, professors, and other persons of no background.”

7. Miss Caroline reads a very imaginative story to the students about chocolate malted mice and cats with clothes. The farm children are not at all impressed with the story. Later when Scout is telling about a change in her family name, Miss Caroline will not listen. Miss Caroline admonishes Scout; “Let’s not let our imaginations run away with us, dear. . . .”

8. Miss Caroline says that Atticus “does not know how to teach”; yet Scout is reading well—even the stock-market quotations. She tells Scout that “It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind.” Scout, however, is not a beginning reader but a good one. Miss Caroline advocates the Language Experience Approach which uses sight words on cards; she does not advocate the phonics method which uses the alphabet and has the students sound out words. Scout seems to know the letters and is reading by that method, but Miss Caroline wants to change her way of reading.

9. Scout learns to write at the kitchen table with Calpurnia setting her a writing task. Calpurnia would write the alphabet across the top of a tablet and then copy a Bible chapter beneath. Scout’s task would be to copy the material satisfactorily. A reward of a bread, butter, and sugar sandwich would be doled out if Calpurnia considered the task well-done.

10. The Cunningham family is a poor family. They are so poor that Scout believes that Walter “had probably never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life.” Despite the lack of material possessions, the Cunninghams have a reputation to uphold. They never take anything they cannot pay back. They even refuse church baskets and scrip stamps. The family does not have much, but they get along with what they have. When they use Atticus’ services, they pay him back with stovewood, hickory nuts, smilax, holly, and turnip greens. The Cunninghams have pride in their land and go hungry to keep it and to vote as they please.

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