In chapter 13, what does this line mean? "...one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them."
As was mentioned in the previous post, Aunt Alexandra moves into the Finch household at the beginning of Chapter 13. Aunt Alexandra explains to Scout that she is in need of a feminine influence in her life and Atticus agreed that it would be best if Alexandra moved in with them. Scout is inwardly suffering from her aunt's presence but keeps her thoughts to herself. She has never got along with her authoritative aunt and is constantly trying to avoid her throughout the novel. When Atticus returns home from Montgomery, Scout runs up to him and gives him a hug. Atticus then asks Scout if she would like it if Aunt Alexandra came to live with them. Scout responds by saying,
"I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but one must lie under certain conditions and at times when one can't do anything about them" (Lee 79).
Scout is essentially saying that in some cases it is beneficial to lie. Scout understands that she cannot prevent Aunt Alexandra from staying with them, so she chooses to tell a white lie. Scout finds it beneficial to exercise courtesy by lying to Atticus, rather than causing conflict by telling the truth. Scout's ability to hide her true feelings to avoid conflict reveals her maturity.
Aunt Alexandra arrives in Maycomb and declares she is moving in to help Atticus with the children, especially Scout. She explains Scout will need feminine attention because it will not be long before Scout is interested in boys and clothes. Scout inwardly scoffs the notion, but holds her tongue—a remarkable feat for the feisty girl. When Atticus arrives home from Montgomery, Scout jumps into his arms. He asks Scout if she would like Aunt Alexandra to move in with them. “I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can’t do anything about them.” Scout realizes she cannot do anything to block Aunt Alexandra’s relocation so she lies and feigns approval. Her statement shows Scout’s growth. At the beginning of the book, Scout would have protested loudly. She is learning the value of the “little white lie.”