Chapter 3

 

Chapter 3

            I was angry at Walter Cunningham for getting me into trouble with Miss Caroline.  I wrestled with him and pushed his face into the ground when Jem came over.  Jem tells me to stop and invites Walter over to our house for lunch.  On the way to the Finch’s house we ran past the Radley house.  Walter informs Jem that he almost died because he ate the pecans from their tree.  The children think that Boo poisons the nuts.  During lunch Walter talks with Atticus.  He says he has trouble passing the first grade because he has to leave school every spring to help on the farm.  While eating lunch, Walter asks for molasses and pours it all over his food.  I asked him what crazy thing was he doing and Calpurnia told me to come into the kitchen.  I told her that he probably would have poured the molasses into his milk if I didn’t stop him.  Calpurnia says that no matter whether you think you are better than another, you don’t make fun of them while they are a guest in your house.  I thought to myself that I would get her and then she’d be sorry.  Jem and Walter went back to school ahead of me and I told Atticus he should “pack her off”.  Atticus says that he will do no such thing and that Calpurnia is valuable to the family and that I should listen to what Cal says.

            I returned to school for the afternoon session.  During this part of the day. I watched while Miss Caroline tried to control a student named Burris Ewell.  Miss Caroline’s attention goes to Burris because she notices something crawling in his hair.  It’s lice!  Burris is unaffected by the commotion he had caused.  Miss Caroline naively tells Burris to go home and wash his hair. Burris informs her that he only comes the first day anyway just to please the truancy lady.  After the first day he never comes back; none of the Ewells still in school come but for the first day.  Burris has been in the first grade for three years now.  Miss Caroline learns that Burris’s mother is dead and his father is a low-class white man who drinks a lot.  Miss Caroline tries to get Burris to sit back down, but he gets angry and mean.  Little Chuck, another student in the class, helps Miss Caroline and tells Burris to go home menacingly.  Burris made Miss Caroline cry and after Burris left, we all tried to comfort her.

            After school let out, we went home and made sure to run past the Radley’s house.  We met Atticus when he got home from work.  Calpurnia had made a special treat of mine for dinner and I was sure that Calpurnia had seen her errors in the way she treated me at lunch.

            That night, Atticus asked me if I was ready to read with him.  I got real uncomfortable.  Atticus noticed that something was bothering me so he asked me what was wrong.  I told him all that had happened in the day and even the part about Miss Caroline saying that he had taught me all wrong so we couldn’t read together anymore.  I told Atticus that I didn’t want to go to school anymore.  Atticus tries to interpret some of the confusing episodes of the day for me.  He says, “If you can learn a simple trick Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.  You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view -- … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (p. 30).  I learned that the Cuninghams are poor but honest people and that Miss Caroline made some honest mistakes.  We couldn’t expect her to have learned all the ways of Maycomb in one day.

            On the conversation of the Ewells, Atticus says that the law bends a little for them.  The people allow them certain privileges by being a Ewell and living in their situation.  They don’t have to go to school and Mr. Bob Ewell, the father, is permitted to hunt and trap animals out of season.  He is allowed to do this because he spends all of his welfare money on whiskey and his children to hungry.  The food that he hunts goes to feeding his children so nobody would say that he can’t hunt even if it is out of season.  Atticus says that you can’t punish the children for the father’s faults.

            Atticus and I made a compromise.  If I agreed to go to school, then we could continue reading together each night, but we better keep it a secret.