In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is Aunt Alexandra "the last of her kind," and how is she described in the novel?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Aunt Alexandra Finch Hancock, is a strict woman.  She loves her family and is very protective of their "status" in Macomb.  She is a woman who would not go out the door without a hat and gloves because that was the "style" during that era.  In many ways she reminds me of my mother.  She is 86 now and a old southern "lady".  There aren't many left.  Like Aunt Alexandra there is a certain way things should be done. The Finch family has a reputation to uphold and she sees Scout as a threat to that image and wants Scout to become a "lady."  She wants everything to be above suspicion and she wants everyone to know that the Finch Family are "the upper crust of Macomb society."  They are "better" than the Cunningham family and the Ewells are not even on the ladder.  She does not consider herself to be a snob, but she thinks every family in Macomb has a specific rung on a ladder and the rungs should never cross paths on a social level.  This is a way of thinking that was dying out and Alexandra was one of the few who still believed in this strict social structure.  Things were changing and Alexandra was not changing with the times.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Aunt Alexandra is the picture of Southern womanhood. She could be considered antebellum, as many of her societal values are derivative of the customs and mores present during and immediately after the civil war. Women were to be ladies in every respect: mannerly, feminine, graceful, and when necessary, steel-willed.

It is her personality and her sense of propriety that makes Aunt Alexandra the "last of her kind," as the south of her day is rapidly passing even in the 1930s, and the area is slowly becoming more open-minded. The expectations for girls, in particular, are quickly becoming outmoded and obsolete, and Aunt Alexandra doesn't quite know how to adapt. 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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When Aunt Alexandra came to live in Maycomb for a while, she fit right into the culture of the small Southern town, joing social clubs and becoming a leader in the Missionary Society. Scout summarized the essence of Alexandra in this passage from Chapter 13:

. . . Aunt Alexandra was one of the last of her kind: she had river-boat, boarding-school manners; let any moral come along and she would uphold it; she was born in the objective case; she was an incurable gossip. When Aunt Alexandra went to school, self-doubt could not be found in any textbook, so she knew not its meaning. she was never bored, and given the slightest chance she would exercise her royal prerogative: she would arrange, advise, caution, and warn.

Scout points out, also, that Alexandra never forgot her social station and superiority as a Finch: "She never let a chance escape her to point out the shortcomings of other tribal groups to the greater glory of our own . . . ."

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