To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In Chapters 22-31, who says, "...there is no doubt in my mind that they're good folks. But they're not our kind of folks"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 23, Scout mentions that when school is over she cannot wait to invite Walter Cunningham Jr. over to play and spend the night. Aunt Alexandra responds by telling Scout, "We’ll see about that" (Lee, 227). Aunt Alexandra is prejudiced against individuals from lower social classes and does not want Jem and Scout associating with poor country folks. When Scout asks her aunt why not, Alexandra tells her,

"Jean Louise, there is no doubt in my mind that they’re good folks. But they’re not our kind of folks" (Lee, 227).

Aunt Alexandra's comment is her way of politely expressing her prejudice and telling Scout that she is too good to associate with any Cunningham. Alexandra proceeds to elaborate on her comment by telling Jem and Scout that there is nothing Walter Cunningham Jr. could do that would ever make him equal to Jem. When Scout continues to express her desire to play with Walter Cunningham Jr. and ask why she cannot invite him over, Aunt Alexandra becomes frustrated and finally tells her,

"Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what" (Lee, 228).

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Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Aunt Alexandra says this to Scout when Scout asks her if it’s alright to invite Walter Cunningham over. Aunt Alexandra has some good qualities but those are overshadowed by her insistence on maintaining the structure of social classes. She tries to supplement Atticus’ ‘we are all equal’ liberal philosophy with her own conservative viewpoints and her insistence on the family protecting its stature in the community by keeping their distance from the poor and less educated families. Scout initially doesn’t listen to Aunt Alexandra because of her reluctance to ‘act like a lady’ but she also perceives hypocrisy and direct contradiction to what Atticus has taught. Scout struggles with the idea. At the end of Chapter 23, Jem tells Scout that people must be different because if they were all the same, they would all get along. This begs the question; are people inherently different or are they treated differently based on other factors: social class, income, skin color, family name.

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