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Summary and Detailed Notes for Chapter 3 and 4 of To Kill a Mocking Bird

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Brief Summary of Chapter 3 & 4

Meeting Walter Cunningham
Jem and Scout meet Walter Cunningham on their way to school. They talk about his family and invite him home for dinner. Atticus and Walter discuss farming, while Jem boasts about visiting the nearby Radley house. Walter pours syrup on his food at the dinner table, leaving Scout confused. Calpurnia scolds her for her behavior and Scout finishes her meal in the kitchen.

Miss Caroline’s Horrifying Encounter
Miss Caroline is horrified by a cootie crawling out of a student’s hair. She sends the student, Burris Ewell, home to wash his hair with lye soap and kerosene to get rid of cooties. Miss Caroline encounters Burris Ewell, a filthy and rude student from a notorious family. The class explains that the Ewells only attend school on the first day and then leave; the teacher is unable to make him go home. Burris leaves after making a scene. The protagonist and her classmates try to comfort their teacher, Miss Caroline, after a rough first day at school.

Atticus Discusses Unfairness of Forcing People into School
The protagonist is unhappy and considers running away. Calpurnia, the family cook, tries to make amends with the protagonist. Scout tells Atticus she doesn’t want to go to school anymore, but he insists she must go. Atticus teaches Scout about empathy and reinforces the importance of education while discussing the Ewell family’s disobedience of the law. Atticus Finch discusses the unfairness of forcing certain people into school and the privileges allowed to certain families, including hunting out of season. He compromises with his daughter Scout to continue reading at night in exchange for attending school.

Summer Plans
The narrator spends the day running errands for Atticus and returns to see Jem coming down from the tree. School is boring and the narrator feels cheated, but finds gum in a tree near the Radley Place. The narrator finds and eats Wrigley’s Double-Mint gum, which angers her brother. As summer begins, they find a box of old pennies and wonder if it is someone’s hidden treasure. Jem and Scout find some Indian-head pennies and contemplate keeping them until school starts to ask around. Jem believes they hold strong magic and decides to keep them in his trunk. Dill also arrives and they decide to play Tom and Sam and Dick.
Creating a Game Around the Mysterious Neighbor

A group of children create a game around the mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley. They add plot and dialogue, basing it on rumors and gossip about his family, but must keep the game a secret from adults.

Playing a Game Connected to the Radleys

Jem and Scout play a game connected to the Radleys, and Atticus catches them. Jem plans to continue playing by changing the character names.

Exploring Miss Maudie’s Property

Dill is neglectful, and Scout spends time with Miss Maudie. The narrator and their friends have a tacit agreement with Miss Maudie to play on her lawn and explore her property, but are careful not to disrupt the balance of their relationship.

Detailed Notes on Chapter 2

Jem and Scout invite Walter Cunningham for lunch

•Scout explains her involvement in Walter’s dietary affairs, saying he didn’t have any lunch.

•Jem stops Scout from chasing Walter away and invites him to lunch.

•Walter nods when Jem asks if his father is Mr. Walter Cunningham from Old Sarum.

•Walter’s eyes are red-rimmed and watery, and there is no color on his face except at the tip of his nose.

•Jem convinces Walter to join them for dinner despite Scout’s initial reluctance.

•Jem and Walter talk about Boo Radley, and Jem boasts about going up to the house.

•Atticus greets Walter and talks to him about crops, as Jem and Scout listen in.

•Walter explains that he had to stay out of school to help his father and pay for his brother’s education.

Atticus, Walter, and Calpurnia’s role in social etiquette at the table

•Atticus converses with Walter, treating him as an equal

•Walter pours molasses on everything, leading Scout to scold him

•Calpurnia scolds Scout for being rude and argues that Walter is her guest

•Scout eats her dinner alone in the kitchen after being sent there by Calpurnia

•Scout complains about Calpurnia and suggests that Atticus fire her

•Atticus insists that Calpurnia stays, and suggests that Jem is better behaved than Scout

Miss Caroline’s Classroom Encounter

•The protagonist reflects on how much Calpurnia helps them every day.

•Miss Caroline, the new teacher, is frightened by a mouse in the classroom.

•Little Chuck Little comforts Miss Caroline and attempts to catch the mouse.

•Miss Caroline watches in horror as a cootie crawls out of Burris Ewell’s hair.

•Little Chuck fetches Miss Caroline water while Burris continues to ignore the situation.

•Miss Caroline excuses Burris for the rest of the day and instructs him to wash his hair with lye soap and treat his scalp with kerosene to get rid of the cooties.

Burris Ewell’s defiance towards Miss Caroline

•Burris Ewell, one of the Ewells, enters the classroom, appearing disheveled and ignored by the rest of the class.

•Miss Caroline tells Burris not to show his cooties to the other children, and to bathe himself before coming back to school the next day.

•Burris responds rudely to Miss Caroline’s request, stating that he has already completed his year’s worth of schooling.

•Miss Caroline questions Burris’s absenteeism and school schedule, and the class explains that the Ewells rarely attend school.

•When challenged by Miss Caroline, Burris becomes defiant and condescending, causing Little Chuck Little to intervene and protect the other children.

•Miss Caroline threatens to report Burris’s behavior to the principal, prompting Burris to openly defy and insult her before leaving.

A Day in the Life of Scout Finch

•Scout and her classmates try to comfort Miss Caroline after she is insulted by a parent for not following Maycomb’s ways.

•Miss Caroline reads a story to the first grade about a toadfrog that lived in a hall.

•Scout becomes more and more gloomy as she passes the Radley Place multiple times and dreads the thought of a school year without reading and writing.

•Scout plans to run away from home but is briefly distracted by Calpurnia’s surprise of crackling bread for supper.

•Calpurnia kisses Scout goodbye and Scout wonders if her demeanor has changed towards her.

•Atticus and Scout spend time reading on the porch while Scout contemplates her tough day.

Atticus’ advice and Scout’s school troubles

•Scout tells Atticus she feels unwell and doesn’t want to go to school anymore

•Atticus advises Scout to attend school and explains he has to work to make a living

•Scout shares with Atticus her troubled day with Miss Caroline and being scolded for reading with her

•Atticus advises Scout to understand other people’s perspective before judging them

•Atticus explains to Scout why the Ewells don’t follow the rules and why she should attend school despite them not doing so

•Atticus plans to show Scout how the Ewells live and why they are considered a disgrace to Maycomb

Atticus Finch’s perspective on education

•Atticus believes that education should not be forced upon people like the Ewells who do not show an interest in learning.

•The Ewells are allowed certain privileges by turning a blind eye to their activities including hunting and trapping out of season, which is a misdemeanor at law.

•Atticus justifies these illegal activities as a means to feed the Ewell children who cry from hunger pains.

•Scout is bothered by the fact that she won’t be able to read anymore if she continues to go to school.

•Atticus proposes a compromise where they will continue reading at home if Scout agrees to go to school, and warns her not to discuss their agreement with the school authorities.

Childhood memories of Scout

•Jem spent the whole day up in the tree until Atticus cut off his supplies.

•Scout spent her school days in uneventful classes and felt cheated out of something.

•Jem functioned well with a half-Decimal and Duncecap education, but Scout was left bored in Maycomb County’s school system.

•After school, Scout ran past the Radley Place until one day, she found chewing gum stuck in a knot-hole of a tree with tinfoil.

•Scout took the gum home to examine it on her front porch, finding it to be fresh.

Scout and Jem find old pennies

•Scout eats Wrigley’s gum found in a tree without knowing its condition, but Jem warns her not to touch anything in the trees near the Radley house.

•Scout remembers how her relationship with Calpurnia has changed after her first year of school.

•Scout and Jem look forward to summer, where they can sleep outside and eat good food.

•They find a small box of old pennies under a tree near the Radley house.

•Jem identifies the pennies as Indian-heads, and one is from nineteen-hundred.

•The siblings ponder if the coins belong to someone and why they were hidden.

Jem and Scout’s Dilemma over Indian-heads

•Jem and Scout find Indian-heads in Radley Place.

•They decide to keep them until school starts to ask if they belong to someone.

•Jem believes that Indian-heads are magic charms with good luck, which someone has been collecting.

•Jem intends to keep them safe in his trunk.

•Jem looks at the Radley Place before retiring to his room.

•Dill arrives having traveled by train, stating that he saw his father who was president of the L & N Railroad.

•Dill suggests playing Tom and Sam and Dick in the front yard, but Dill wants the Rover Boys.

A Summer Day’s Playtime

•The characters express their boredom with their current game and ask for a new one.

•They walk to Dill’s front yard and notice the Radley Place in the distance.

•Dill claims he can smell death, leading Jem to tell a story about Hot Steams.

•Jem and Scout suggest playing in an old car tire, and Scout goes first.

•Jem takes revenge on Scout for contradicting him about Hot Steams by pushing her down the sidewalk in the tire, causing her discomfort.

Scout’s encounter with the Radley Place

•Scout runs into a tire while playing with Jem and Dill, and falls to the ground.

•She hears Jem shouting from behind and sees the Radley Place steps in front of her, freezing in fear.

•Jem urges her to get up and retrieve the tire, but Scout is too scared.

•Jem retrieves the tire himself and taunts Scout for acting like a girl.

•Calpurnia calls them for lemonade and they go to drink on the porch.

•Jem suggests playing a game of Boo Radley, but Scout is hesitant and believes he might still be inside the house.

•Dill suggests Scout can watch if she’s scared.

Childhood playtime reenacting neighborhood gossip and legends

•Jem, Dill, and I played a game reenacting the comings and goings of the reclusive Boo Radley.

•I played Mrs. Radley, Dill played Mr. Radley, and Jem played Boo as we polished the play with dialogue and plot over the summer.

•Dill played a convincing villain while I reluctantly played the assorted ladies in the script.

•We acted out neighborhood legends, including the story of how Boo bit off Mrs. Radley’s forefinger and slowly whittled away all the furniture in the house.

•Our play halted when any neighbors appeared, and we tried to keep it a secret when Atticus caught us playing.

Atticus Causing Trouble while the Children Play

•Atticus scolds Jem for playing with scissors and tearing newspaper.

•Atticus asks if the kids’ game has anything to do with the Radleys.

•Jem denies it and goes into the house, leaving Dill and Scout alone in the yard.

•Dill asks if they can keep playing, but Scout suggests that Atticus probably knows about their game.

•Jem becomes defensive and tells Scout she’s acting like a girl.

•Scout reminds Jem that he’ll find out if Atticus knows about their game.

•Jem and Dill continue to play their game, changing character names if Atticus ever tells them they can’t play.

•Dill becomes more interested in Jem than Scout, who spends her time with Miss Maudie instead.

•Miss Maudie was once only a neighbor to Jem and Scout, but became a more important presence when Jem and Dill exclude Scout from their plans.

Our Tacit Treaty with Miss Maudie

•The terms of our tacit treaty with Miss Maudie included playing on her lawn and eating her scuppernongs without jumping on the arbor.

•We seldom spoke to her to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship.

•Jem and Dill’s actions brought me closer to Miss Maudie.

•The terms of the treaty were so generous that we felt careful not to violate them.

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