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How does Harper Lee strongly criticize hypocrisy in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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s9430077j | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 14, 2010 at 9:43 AM via web

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How does Harper Lee strongly criticize hypocrisy in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 14, 2010 at 10:01 AM (Answer #1)

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Several of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are harshly treated for their hypocritical beliefs. Harper Lee is particularly tough on Scout's two teachers, Miss Caroline and Miss Gates. Miss Caroline lords her progressive education over the students, but it is they who teach her the strongest lessons. Miss Gates is shown to speak to the class in one way (a supporter of the Jews being persecuted by Hitler), but Scout knows her true feelings after overhearing her conversation condemning Maycomb's own Negro population.

Religion takes a beating in the novel. The Missionary Circle proves to be a gossipy, hypocritical group, willing to support the Mruna tribe in Africa while trading barbs against Maycomb's African-Americans. The "foot-washing Baptist" Radleys treat their own son like an outcast. Atticus' appeal to the jury to do their duty "for God's sake" falls on deaf ears.   

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