Aunt Alexandra reminds Scout of Mount Everest by calling her "cold, and there," and Alexandra tries to get Scout to be a lady. What does this all mean?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is in Chapter 9 of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee that Scout makes the statement that if she possessed the mystical ideas of lawyers and judges, Aunt Alexandra would have been analogous to Mount Everest. In contrast to her Uncle Jack, a doctor, who accompanies Scout and Jem's aunt, Aunt Alexandra, who is merely "cold" and "there," and rather aloof, while Uncle Jack is humorous and entertaining.

As Scout talks with her cousin Francis at Christmas, Aunt Alexandra and Atticus are in the kitchen from where Scout hears a dispute over her wearing overalls:

Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire.  I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants....furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father's lonely life....

In addition to Scout's need to dress appropriately, according to Aunt Alexandra she should be a "ray of sunshine" in her father's life and not "run wild" and dress in such a tomboy style.  Instead, she should play with small stoves, tea sets, and wear a pearl necklace.  On the contrary, Scout wears jeans and a pretty blouse and argues and fights with her cousin Francis until she hurts him.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As was mentioned in the previous post, Scout compares Aunt Alexandra to Mount Everest in Chapter 9 by saying, "she was cold and there" (Lee, 49). Scout and her aunt have nothing in common, and Aunt Alexandra's callous nature has a negative effect on the way Scout perceives her. Aunt Alexandra believes that Scout should wear dresses, attend social events, and stay inside the house like a proper Southern belle. This lifestyle does not appeal to Scout, who is a tomboy and enjoys playing with Jem and Dill. Scout would much rather wear her overalls and play outside with the boys. Throughout the novel, Scout tries her best to avoid Aunt Alexandra. Aunt Alexandra is also highly critical of Scout. She criticizes Scout for her appearance, attitude, and interests. Even though Aunt Alexandra has Scout's best interests in mind, her callous, highly critical nature has a negative effect on their relationship. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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