In Chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird, do you think the missionary ladies are sincere in worrying about the Mrunas (a tribe in Africa)? Give reasons for your answers.  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Do the women who meet together for the Missionary Circle tea believe they are sincere in their efforts to help the Mruna tribe? Yes. Do the women's later remarks support their true devotion to helping their fellow man? Absolutely not.

Many of the women at the Missionary Circle meeting prove to be a pious but duplicitous group who are only interested in helping the Mrunas because they can do so at long-distance without actually having to rub noses with them. The women, particularly Grace Merriweather--"the most devout lady in Maycomb"--and Gertrude Farrow, seem genuinely concerned about the "squalid lives of the Mrunas," and they appear ready and willing to contribute financially to help their plight. But the women will not have any personal contact with the Mrunas; instead, their support will go to the missionary J. Grimes Everett, who will save them from their "sin and squalor." 

The women's true colors emerge, however, during their gossipy conversations about local life. Mrs. Merriweather's hypocrisy shows up in her callous attitude toward her maid, Sophy, who she describes as a  "sulky darky." She threatens to fire Sophy because of her "grumblin' " about the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial. The stuttering Mrs. Farrow worries that "there's no lady safe in her bed these nights" with black men like Tom running around free. Mrs. Merriweather even has the nerve to criticize Atticus--without mentioning him by name--in his own home while eating the food he has provided for the tea. She implies that Atticus is guilty for stirring up the local Negroes. Miss Maudie doesn't let the woman's remark pass, however.

"His food doesn't stick going down, does it?"

When Atticus arrives later with the news that Tom has been killed, he keeps it secret from most of the women--telling only Alexandra, Maudie, Calpurnia and Scout. He must have realized that the other women may have pretended to be saddened, but inside they were rejoicing in the satisfaction that there was one less black man in Maycomb to worry about.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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