Atticus states in Chapter 3 that ‘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.’ This quote can be interpreted as Atticus saying that Scout and Jem should not prejudge another person without knowing their circumstances and experiences. He is teaching them a life lesson to take a look at things from others perspectives and to realise that people see the world from different angles, with different pasts influencing them. The quote speaks metaphorically but also relates to real “skin” as later in To Kill a Mockingbird, a man is accused of a crime he did not commit and consequently prejudged due to his skin colour.
Scout’s perception of Calpurnia, the Finch’s housekeeper, changes during chapters 2-3. At the beginning of chapter 2, Scout describes Calpurnia in a negative manner saying that she is stubborn and comments that she was ‘’breaking into her new grudge against Calpurnia’’. Scout at first sees Calpurnia less as a human being and more as a force of nature that she runs up against often. Scout thinks that Calpurnia wins their arguments due to the fact that she has Atticus on her side and also that she is too stubborn to admit defeat, “Our battles were epic and one-sided.
Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side”. She sees Calpurnia as too strict and complains about how the housekeeper treats her; ‘’In Calpurnia’s teaching, there was no sentimentality; I seldom pleased her and she seldom rewarded me’’ However during chapter 3, Scout’s view of Calpurnia is altered considerably; ‘’Calpurnia bent down and kissed me. I ran along, wondering what had come over her.’’ Scout is surprised at this as Calpurnia had never openly expressed her concern for Scout’s wellbeing previously and always seemed to be harsh on her; however this was proven to just be a facade. Scout overall was too caught up in the tunnel vision of her own perspective that she was not able to see that Calpurnia was hard on her because she cares about her. Calpurnia also teaches Scout life lessons during Chapter 3 about prejudging others and having stereotypical views of people just because of their class or race; ‘…’ Therefore in the end Scout realises that there are many sides to Calpurnia that she has not seen yet and is enlightened by Calpurnia’s life lessons.
During Chapter 2, Scout is met by a new teacher called Miss Caroline Fisher who is an ‘’outsider’’ to Maycomb. Scout immediately stereotypes the woman according to her dress sense and style assuming that she would be kind and sweet as she ‘’looked and smelled like a peppermint drop’’. However Scout later learns that Miss Caroline is a stern teacher and abides strictly by the rules. Scout develops a new dislike for the teacher as Miss Caroline tells her off for already being able to read and write, “We don’t write in the first grade, we print. You won’t learn to write until you’re in the third grade”. Scout is not able to understand the true reason for her teacher’s dislike to her ability of reading and writing as she is not able to look beyond her own beliefs. Miss Caroline told Scout off as she did not want one student to have an unfair advantage over the others and so was actually trying to look after the feelings of the other students in her class. Scout also forgets that Miss Caroline is unaware and ignorant to the class system in Maycomb and the town social customs as she is originally from Alabama. This is shown during the conversation between Miss Caroline Scout and Walter as she offers him money for lunch which he promptly refuses, and to which Scout replies ‘’Miss Caroline, he’s a Cunningham.’’ Scout is naïve and assumes that Miss Caroline would understand what she meant by the phrase as any other Maycomb citizen would gather the reason as Walter cannot pay Miss Caroline back.
Finally Walter Cunningham is introduced as a new character in Chapter 2. Walter is described by Scout as having hookworms suggesting that he is poor and cannot afford shoes. Scout is shown to already have increased knowledge and prejudices about the social classes in Maycomb commenting that Walter will probably have ‘’never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life’’ as he is a Cunningham. During Chapter 3, Walter is invited to lunch by Jem. Scout is surprised when Walter and Atticus ‘’talked together like two grown men’’ as she believed that as Walter is from the Cunninghams, who were of lower class than the Finch’s, therefore he would be unable to have an intelligent conversation.
Scout was prejudging his ability according to his class before she got to know him properly. Scout’s own ability to understand is exceeded when Walter pours molasses all over his lunch at the Finch’s; ‘’Walter poured syrup on his vegetables and meat with a generous hand. He probably have poured it into his milk glass had I not asked what the sam hill he was doing.’’ Scout is unable to accept what Walter was doing as it was against etiquette she had learnt previously. She believes that the way Walter ate was wrong and assumes that she is of higher status and class as she is a Finch and he is a Cunningham. However Scout later learns from Calpurnia that just because someone’s different does not mean she gets to judge them, ‘’Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ comp’ny, and don’t let me catch you remarkin’ on their ways like you so high and mighty!’’.
In conclusion, the idea of prejudice is explored through several characters in order to highlight the nativity of Scout as she is only a six year old who still has a lot to learn about Maycomb County and its residents. The characters show how much Scout still has to progress and also hints at the main moral of the story which is to not prejudge anyone before all of the details are known about them. It also foreshadows to further exploration into the theme of prejudice and the negative effects they have on Maycomb society.