During the Missionary Circle tea, what news arrives, and how does Alexandra, Miss Maudie and Scout respond?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Aunt Alexandra's Missionary Circle tea, Atticus arrives unexpectedly with some bad news: Tom Robinson has been shot and killed while trying to escape from prison. Aunt Alexandra, who doesn't seem to particularly care for Negroes, is shocked by the news. "She put her hands to her mouth" and her "voice shook" when she asked how Tom died. Scout "thought Aunt Alexandra was crying, (but) she was not." She obviously thought badly about Tom dying, but she was more concerned for her brother, because she knew the news "tears him to pieces."

Miss Maudie sternly calms Alexandra, telling her that there are some people in town who back Atticus, and that not everyone believes in a "Whites Only" policy:

"The handful of people in this town with background, that's who they are."

When Maudie sees Scout shaking, she "commanded" her to stop, and Scout did as she was told. Alexandra composed herself, and Maudie told them both to show "not a sign." The two women and Scout resumed serving in Calpurnia's place, and Scout decided that

... if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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