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Atticus's patient teaching gives Scout a lesson that he says will help her "get along better with all kinds of folk": she has to remember to judge people on their intentions rather than their actions, and put herself into the other person's shoes in order to understand them best. The chapter establishes that Atticus can relate to all kinds of people, including poor farm children.
The chapter introduces the Ewell family, who will figure heavily into the latter part of the book. Burris Ewell and his family manage to live outside the local and national laws because they are so poor and ignorant.
This chapter also focuses on the Cunningham family, and the reasons farm children are neglected by the education system. The Cunninghams are not all necessarily illiterate and ignorant because of a lack of intelligence, but because they are subject to a system which subverts their chances of receiving a good education. The Cunninghams must keep the farm running in order to survive, and because the school system does not make any accommodations for farm children, there is a self-perpetuating societal cycle for farm families to remain uneducated and ignorant.