To Kill a Mockingbird: Part One: Chapters 1-3

Part One: Chapters 1-3

By Harper LeeRelease Year: 1960

Part I

Chapter 1

Scout Finch narrates the story in this chapter. She tells of her family’s history with the aim to explain how her brother Jem broke his arm. Through Scout, the history of the Finch family becomes apparent. Her ancestors came to America after fleeing religious oppression in England. They set up a successful farm that has been sustaining them for a long time. Atticus, Scout’s father, and his siblings all make the best out their lives through the farm. Atticus becomes a lawyer, his brother Jack goes to medical school, and his sister Alexandra remains as the farm’s manager. Atticus’s legal career sees him give his children Scout and Jem a considerably comfortable life. Scout’s and Jem’s mother died when they were babies. They are raised with the help of their black housekeeper Calpurnia.

Scout and Jem make friends with Dill who lives in their neighborhood during summer. They decide to lure Boo out of his house in Bradley Place because he hardly ventures outside. Through Scout, we learn that Boo got into a lot of trouble with the law when he was a boy. The reason he rarely ventured outside is that his father decided to imprison him in the house to punish him for the trouble he got into with the law. 

Chapter 2

As summer ends in September, Dill leaves Maycomb and returns home.  Scout joins a school for the very first time. Even though she was eager to join the school, she ends up hating it because she feels that her teacher Miss Caroline does not deal with students well. Miss Caroline feels that Scout knows how to read because Atticus taught her. This does not go down well with her and she makes Scout feel uncomfortable for the education she received. When Scout raises this concern to Jem, he tells her that the teacher could simply be trying a new way of teaching. This further complicates the relationship between Scout and Miss Caroline.

When a boy in Scout’s class named Walter Cunningham cannot afford to buy lunch, Miss Caroline lends him a quarter to buy lunch and expects it to be paid back the next day. Scout knows that William cannot afford to pay back the quarter because he comes from a very poor family. In fact, when Walter’s family needs legal help from Atticus, they use non-monetary means of payment such as turnip greens and hickory nuts to pay for the services. Scout knows these facts and even tries to explain them to Miss Caroline, which only infuriates her more.

Chapter 3

Jem invites Walter to Lunch at the Finch’s house after Scout reprimands him for getting her in trouble. Atticus discusses farm conditions with Walter like two men would do. Walter is not used to the lifestyle he sees at the Finch’s and ends up putting Molasses in his food. Scout criticizes him for this but is reprimanded by their cook Calpurnia for doing so. While at school, a bug comes out of Burris Ewell, a boy from a very poor clan.

This terrifies Miss Caroline. Burris is only known to attend school on the first day to avoid getting in trouble with the law. When he leaves class after the incident, the remarks he makes lead the teacher to cry. Atticus finds out that Scout no longer wants to go to school and wants to be taught from home by him.

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