Does Miss Gates believe in democracy, and what is ironic about her description of it in America?Thanks in advance.  

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Gates is convinced that she believes in democracy, but her racist views tell a different story. She compliments Scout when she provides a definition of democracy.

     " 'Equal rights for all, special privileges for none,' " I quoted.  (Chapter 26)

Miss Gates seems to agree with Scout's response, and the teacher is quick to point out the differences between America and Hitler's Germany: "We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship." Miss Gates is sympathetic to the plight of the German Jews and feels their persecution is "one of the most terrible stories in history." But Miss Gates' beliefs are only skin deep. As Cecil Jacobs points out about the Jews, "They're white, ain't they?" And herein lies the irony behind Miss Gates's view about democracy: It apparently does not apply to black people. Scout remembers Miss Gates's remarks from the courthouse about how

"... it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us."  (Chapter 26)

Miss Gates may claim to believe in democracy and that "over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody," but she obviously doesn't practice what she preaches when it come to the black American citizens of Maycomb.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question