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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Jem manages to stop the fight between Scout and Walter Cunningham and then spontaneously invites him for dinner. Scout makes an involuntary remark about Walter’s strange eating habits at the dining table, and is severely reprimanded by Calpurnia.
Back at school, Miss Carolina is disgusted to see a louse in Burris Ewell’s hair and sends him home to get clean. The boy’s rude behavior shocks the teacher and one student offers an explanation about the lifestyle of the Ewells, who breach all rules and live a life of sloth. Back home, Scout wonders aloud to her father, whether she too could skip school and stay at home like the Ewells. Atticus explains to her that sometimes rules are bent to maintain the harmony in society, but Scout would have to go to school.
Another section of the Maycomb County is unveiled here. The Ewells are what was called the ‘white trash’ who live in dire poverty, yet make no attempts to ascend out of it. The society has to accept their way of life and they are merely evaded as far as possible. The Cunninghams, though as poor, are not like the Ewells, in that they posses self-respect, honesty and perseverance.
Atticus, being a lawyer, has to deal with all kinds of people including such as the Cunninghams and the Ewells, and is therefore aware of their particular failings and strengths.
Calpurnia serves as a surrogate mother for the children, who takes them at hand, teaching them rudimentary reading and courteous conduct.
On this particular day, as Scout runs back home from school, she sees something glistening on the oak tree outside the Radley house. Taking courage, she retraces her steps to investigate and finds some chewing gum wrapped in tin foil and stuffed into a hole in the its trunk.
Jem, on discovering it, makes Scout spit it out. But the very next day, when they pass by the same place, they discover a box containing two shining pennies in it. Initially they decide to inquire if anybody has lost some pennies, and if there would be no claimants, they decide to pocket it themselves.
Dill arrives in a blaze of glory and a fanfare of fantasies. While they are playing together, Scout gets into an old tire which is pushed over by Jem. It starts rolling down the road and stops right outside the Radley house. In her fright, Scout runs back, leaving the tire behind. Jem, with much ado at bravery, ultimately retrieves it. Then they plan out a pantomime game, with Jem pretending to be Boo, continually howling and shrieking away. They even act out the scene where Boo had supposedly plunged a knife through his father’s pants.
Unfortunately for them, Atticus catches them at it and the game is stopped. Scout remembers that on the day she had rolled into the Radley front yard, she had heard a low sound of laughter from inside the house.
The apparent futility of the new method of teaching makes Scout sluggish in her schoolwork. It is also evident that her fear of the Radley house has not mitigated with time.
The discovery of the chewing gum, and later the pennies, gives an insight into the character of Boo Radley, who is feared by all children but who loves them nonetheless, and therefore shows his interest in them through such covert attempts. Even his laughter, that Scout overhears as she rolls onto his front yard, reveals his keenness in the children’s actions and a fervor in living his life amidst people, as he did before he had been submitted to this severe punishment of confinement.
The game the children indulge in is typical of children who wish to enact things they hear about. And though Boo Radley scares the wits out of them, his life holds prominence too, which leads them to an enact (what they believe is) Boo’s life. Though apparently it is an unkind thing to do, the children are displaying the way they come to terms with the adult world.