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Why would Alexandra be considered orthodox, strong-willed and a southern "Belle"?To...

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elena101 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted February 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM via web

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Why would Alexandra be considered orthodox, strong-willed and a southern "Belle"?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM (Answer #1)

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As Scout narrates in Chapter 13 after Aunt Alexandra's arrival, "There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb."  And, Aunt Alexandra "fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove," for she is acquainted with the lineage of all the prominent families; a knowledge she imparts shortly after her arrival.  As is apparent, family position is important to Alexandra, who has her brother remind his children that they come from "gentle breeding" and are not "run-of-the-mill" people.

When Aunt Alexandra learns that Calpurnia has taken the children to her church, she is incensed and forbids Scout and Jem to return. Later, she asks Atticus to release Calpurnia from his service, but he insists that she is a "faithful member of this family."  Defeated in this area, Alexandra finds victory in forbidding Scout to have Walter Cunningham in their house.

A member of the church of the socially elite, the Methodist Episcopal Church, Aunt Alexandra wears her corset on Sundays and has the ladies come for tea, forbidding Calpurnia to make the tea cakes and doing this herself.  However, Calpurnia must wear her stiffest starched apron when the ladies arrive because she will be carrying the silver teapot to the dining room. The afternoon is spent listening to Mrs. Merriweather's prattle until Atticus comes in to tell Capulnia that Tom Robinson has been killed. Overcome, Alexandra cries and vents her anger towards the community for placing the burden of defending Tom upon her brother. After Miss Maudie comforts her, Aunt Alexandra "smooths the whalebone ridges in her dress and pats her hair, preparing to return to the dining room. Scout narrates,

Their voices swelled when Miss Maudie opened the door to the dining room. Aunt Alexandra was ahead of me and I saw her head go up as she went through the door.

Soon thereafter, Scout remarks that "if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I," and she takes a tray of cookies to Mrs. Merriweather, offering them to her.

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