School starts. Scout seldom sees Jem, since he’s in 7th grade and stays out late carrying water for the football team. Scout often walks alone past Radley Place and feels horrible for tormenting Boo Radley. She remembers the gifts left in the oak tree and reasons that almost seeing him a couple times is good enough. She fantasizes about seeing him on the porch and greeting him politely, but Atticus warns her to not think about it and lets on that he knows about their midnight jaunt through the Radley yard. Boo is the least of Scout’s worries, however, since classmates still taunt Scout and Jem about Atticus’s role in Tom’s case. Scout decides that people are strange, since they still reelect Atticus to the state legislature, so she mostly ignores them.
Feeling horrible for the way she treated Boo, and indeed recognizing that she, Jem, and Dill tormented him is another leap in Scout’s maturity. Now, she’s able to look back on her childish antics and see that she was actually prejudiced against someone who simply chooses to live differently, and that she made his life even more difficult because of that. When Maycomb still elects Atticus to the legislature, it creates the sense that not much is going to change in Maycomb, for better or worse.
One week during Scout’s current events period, Cecil Jacobs brings in an article about how Hitler is persecuting Jewish and disabled people in Germany. Miss Gates gives the class a quick lesson on democracy and insists that Germany is a dictatorship, unlike the U.S. Because the U.S. is a democracy, nobody is persecuted because nobody is prejudiced. Scout has questions but doesn’t feel comfortable asking Atticus. She seeks out Jem and notes that Miss Gates hates Hitler, but she also heard Miss Gates after the trial saying that the black folks in Maycomb are getting above themselves. She wants to know how Miss Gates can be so hypocritical. Furious, Jem tells Scout to not talk about the trial. Scout finds Atticus. He encourages her to be understanding of Jem, as he’s trying to process something right now.
Scout recognizes that Miss Gates is extremely hypocritical and racist here. Miss Gates can see how awful it is that Hitler is persecuting Jewish people yet can’t understand that in the U.S., black people also live in fear of the white people in charge—who are prejudiced, no matter what she says. Again, the fact that Scout can pick this out when Miss Gates cannot speaks to the novel’s insistence that children have the ability to recognize these discrepancies, as they don’t yet have to fit into polite society and assume the questionable views required to fit in.