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What new insight is gained into Aunt Alexandra's character? Cite an example from...

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em5264 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:25 AM via iOS

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What new insight is gained into Aunt Alexandra's character? Cite an example from Chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM (Answer #1)

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The reader learns that Aunt Alexandra takes part in the women's missionary circle. This is not surprising since Alexandra takes pride in being part of Maycomb's (white) social world. She invites Scout to stay and visit with them because she wants Scout to learn how to be a lady. This is also nothing new. Despite Alexandra's interest in being a part of this hypocritical world, she is aware of those hypocrisies and does not necessarily agree with them. When Miss Maudie subtly challenges Mrs. Merriweather by exposing her hypocrisy, Alexandra secretly thanks her. Here, we see Alexandra's more open-minded or liberal side. 

When Aunt Alexandra, Scout, Miss Maudie, and Cal learn that Tom has been shot and killed, Alexandra is very upset at Tom's death and that Atticus has to be the one to take care of such issues. Miss Maudie tells her that it is an honor in that the fair people of Maycomb know that Atticus is the best person for the job. 

"The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us; the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord’s kindness am l." 

Aunt Alexandra, after having silently thanked Miss Maudie for calling Mrs. Merriweather on her hypocrisy, evidently accepts Miss Maudie's analysis. Then, Miss Maudie, Alexandra, and Scout return to the missionary meeting in the next room. Scout notes that if Aunty can be a lady at a time like this, so can she. We learn that Aunt Alexandra is not as one-dimensional as she appears earlier in the novel. Alexandra is conservative and traditional but in this chapter she does exhibit a critical attitude towards hypocrites such as Mrs. Merriweather. Being traditional but with a progressive brother (Atticus), Alexandra represents someone conflicted with a loyalty to the past but with an awareness of progress. 

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