In Chapter 16 of To Kill A Mockingbird, what does this excerpt mean?   "Aunt Alexandra sipped coffee and radiated waves of disapproval. Children who slipped out at night were a disgrace to the...

In Chapter 16 of To Kill A Mockingbird, what does this excerpt mean?

 

"Aunt Alexandra sipped coffee and radiated waves of disapproval. Children who slipped out at night were a disgrace to the family. Atticus said he was right glad his disgraces had come along, but Aunty said, 'Nonsense, Mr Underwood was there all the time.'"

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This excerpt refers to the events in the previous chapter. In Chapter 15, Atticus is guarding the jail because he is afraid someone might try to do something to Tom Robinson. Atticus's suspicions are correct. Walter Cunningham Sr. and a mob of men come for Tom Robinson at night. Atticus does his best to talk calmly and logically to the men. But it is the intrusion of Jem, Scout, and Dill that saves the day. When Atticus left for the jail, they sneaked out of the house and followed Atticus. When the mob approached, the children didn't know what to do. In a moment of uncertainty and fear, Scout runs to Atticus. Atticus asks Jem to take the kids home and Jem refuses. Scout makes a few attempts to befriend Walter Sr. This act of kindness on Scout's part convinces Walter to get the mob to go home. 

In this excerpt, the family is eating breakfast the next morning. Having learned that the children sneaked out the previous night, Aunt Alexandra expresses her disapproval. She says it is a "disgrace" for children to act this way. Atticus replies that he is glad that those "disgraces" (Jem, Scout, and Dill) had come along because they got the mob to clear out. Aunt Alexandra replies that he wouldn't have needed the children because Mr. Underwood was watching Atticus's back. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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