By the end of Chapter 24, what has Scout learned about "being a lady?"chap. 24thanks!

Expert Answers
davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generally, she learns that, when it comes to being a lady, it's not what's on the outside, but what's on the inside that counts. Aunt Alexandra sees it as her overriding duty in life to teach Scout how to be a lady, and her understanding of what that means is related to the traditional notion of the genteel, upstanding epitome of womanhood that's such an important part of Southern folklore. But Scout's too much of a tomboy, way too enamored of wearing overalls, to fit into that mold. She'd much rather be like Miss Maudie Atkinson, a free spirit like herself, who speaks her mind and defies social convention.

Scout's attendance at Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle makes her become even more estranged from prevailing notions of what's considered ladylike behavior. The ladies of the circle appear to fulfill all the relevant criteria of ideal Southern womanhood—they're soberly-dressed, gracious, and formally polite. Unfortunately, as Scout soon discovers, they're also hypocritical, expressing concern over the plight of a remote African tribe while using racist epithets to describe their domestic servants.

Sometimes it takes the eyes of a child to see through the falsity of adult social conventions, and that's precisely what happens here. Inviting Scout to the missionary circle's little gathering was a big mistake on the part of Aunt Alexandra. She's now virtually guaranteed that Scout will not grow up to be her idea of what a fine Southern lady ought to be.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this is a great question. Everyone's definition of "lady" is likely different. I think the portrayal of the woman of the society is not necessarily embodied in either Aunt Alexandra or Miss Maudie (although they are truly admirable ladies in the chapter). What Scout learns about what it meant to be a lady in Maycomb is troubling to her and to us as readers. She learned that being a lady meant gossiping about other people. It meant acting like you are doing good, but being a hypocrite about it. It meant drinking tea and making fake compliments about how good the goodies are. It meant dressing uncomfortably to impress other people. I think this shows that the Southern woman she saw was not the Southern woman she wanted to become which is why Maudie and Alexandra's fortitude after the news of Tom's death is so important.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, what Scout has learned by the end of this chapter is that her Aunt Alexandra is a lady, and Miss Maudie probably is, but none of the others in the Missionary Circle is a lady.

What I mean by this is that being a lady does not mean being superior and looking down on other people.  If you are a lady, Scout learns, you need to be caring and fair.  You need to not be hypocritical like the other women who are at the gathering.

Finally, I guess, being a lady means bearing up under stress and sadness and not letting those things show.

So being a lady is pretty much like being a good person.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question