Describe Aunt Alexandra and explain her negative feelings about Scout?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus's sister, Alexandra Hancock, is

... not fat, but solid, and chose protective garments that drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed to suggest that Aunt Alexandra's was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was formidable.   (Chapter 13)

Alexandra was an imposing and dominating woman, be it at Finch's Landing or in Atticus's house in Maycomb. She wore the figurative pants in the family at the landing, where her husband mostly fished and lazed about; she also had no experience bringing up a young girl, since her only child was a boy. When she arrived in Maycomb, Alexandra immediately tried to institute her old plantation rules in Atticus's home: She wanted Calpurnia fired and Scout to wear dresses. Little girls who wore overalls could never become young ladies, Alexandra believed, and forcing Scout to become a lady was a primary objective. Of course, Scout was dedicated to remaining a tomboy, and the independence allowed her by Atticus would always clash with Alexandra's ideas. Scout and Alexandra disagreed about heredity: Scout believed that there was basically one type of "folk," but her aunt judged everyone from their family histories. After clashing with Scout over Walter Cunningham Jr., Alexandra eventually softens her stubborn stance with Scout, and Scout sadly realizes that

... There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.  (Chapter 24)

Things became easier for Scout once she accepted the inevitability of becoming a lady, and Alexandra's own motherly instincts emerged on the fateful Halloween night when she repeatedly calls Scout "darling" before she begrudingly

... brought me my overalls... handing me the garments she most despised.  (Chapter 28)

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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