The extract seems to be of a girl who has been taught how to read and write, but has got into trouble for it as her teacher disapproves of it. She seems to be new to the school as reading and writing is learnt at an elementary level. This extract is a conversation between the little girl, Scout and an adult to whom she refers to as Atticus. Scout seems to want to not go to school, which is typical of children, and Atticus deters her from that idea. Although we learn that she does not want to miss school because she is not smart, or she gets harassed or teased, she feels that she has been treated incorrectly by her teacher for something which is not even close to immoral. In my commentary I will look at various aspects of the extract to appreciate the characters involved, the situation of the book, and why Scout behaves in the way she is presently behaving.
At the beginning of the extract, the reader gets an idea that Scout shared a very professional relationship with Atticus, “I told Atticus I didn’t feel very well and didn’t want to go to school if it was alright with him”. Not only does this show us that she was not very close to Atticus but also that she like a typical child thought of some unpersuasive excuse to give to a person for not going to school. Atticus appears to be a thoughtful man here who gives a lot of significance to his conversation with Scout. He waits to get the whole truth to the scenario before responding, which makes the other person in the conversation speak up and rationale the stand put forward. When he speaks he puts forward a reasonable justification to it supporting it with more than a single point. When Atticus suggests the idea of Scout having a “dose of magnesia” and going to school the next day, Scout suddenly feels alright, which is typical for a child and it becomes clear that Scout is a type of person who will give some excuse to get her way.
After hearing the whole story, Atticus takes his time digest what he has heard as he knows that the teacher has lied to Scout, instead of getting upset by this, he tells scout to understand things from other people’s point of view by climbing “into his skin and walk around in it” This is a very significant quotation in the extract as it truly shows Atticus’s character. We realize that Atticus is a man who does not only think about himself, but takes time to think about the situation other must be in before he reacts to any situation. Even in this extract he asks Scout what the problem really was so that he could think about it and give a fair and just decision. He tells scout his philosophical idea so that she realizes her teacher’s objective in saying that Atticus taught her all the wrong stuff and the other misfortunes she faced in school.
Although after Atticus’s immensely strong line, Scout seemed to have realized that Miss Caroline, her teacher made a sincere mistake as she did not know all of Maycomb’s ways in a day, Scout however still seems to be hung on to the idea of not going to school as she comes up with another idea of them not doing anything unlawful but yet her missing school just like a person known as Burris Ewell. Atticus again does not appreciate this idea as he is fully aware of the type of people they were as compared to himself and Scout. He regarded them as special and not ordinary like Scout and himself. He explained that family’s history to Scout in a way where he was very bias against them, and he showed disgust while saying it. Through his description of them, they seem to be people who could not be instructed to do anything, neither by law, nor by force. They could do what they wanted to do, as and when they wanted to do it no matter whether it was against the law of not. He explained to Scout that while there were special people like the Ewells, ordinary folks still had to abide by the norms and by the norms, she had to go to school. Again we see that Atticus refers to scout as Miss Scout Finch, and Scout refers to Atticus as Sir Atticus.
Perturbed by learning that Scout had to go to school she admitted the root of her problem “we can’t ever read anymore”. Atticus having realized that this was actually the root cause of the problem he thought of tackling it at its root, he made a conciliation which satisfied him and Scout, she wanted to learn from Atticus but believed that this could not be done if she went to school and Atticus did not want her to bend the rules and not go to school, so he suggested that she goes to school and he will teach her how to read and write regularly just the way he used to. They agreed upon this compromise.
Atticus also realized that Miss Caroline had a problem against him teaching Scout and did not want Scout to suffer because of that, hence he told Scout not to discuss their conciliation as he had a feeling their activities “would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities”. He also did not want to get on Miss Caroline’s wrong side as he did not want her after him.
Throughout this extract Atticus has shown himself to be a calm gentle human being, who wants to understand both sides of the situation and finally tackle the problem at its root before it builds up, where as Scout comes across as a stubborn person who wants things her way and gets upset by little things which disturb her. Both of them seem to share a relationship of professional understanding which comes from past experiences. Atticus looks for more viable solution while Scout typical of a child looks for radical solutions but finally agrees with Atticus’s ideas.