In the early part of To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some examples of hypocrisy in the citizens of Maycomb?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the theme of hypocrisy is most fully developed in Part Two of the novel, it is introduced early in the story through one of Scout's conversations with Miss Maudie. In Chapter 5, Scout asks Maudie questions about Boo Radley and his family. Maudie tells Scout that Old Mr. Radley had been "a foot-washing Baptist," implying that he attended church and was very strong and strict in his religious views. Mr. Radley obviously viewed himself as a Christian. Later in their conversation, Maudie talks about Arthur Radley when he was young. Scout wants to know if Maudie thinks Boo is crazy. Maudie replies:

If he's not he should be by now. The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets--

We can infer from Maudie's remarks that Old Mr. Radley was a hypocrite, a public follower of Christ who abused his own son within the privacy of his home.

Stephanie Crawford is characterized also as being hypocritical. Scout points out that Stephanie "[went] about the neighborhood doing good." Stephanie, however, gossips about Boo Radley, spreading cruel, untrue stories about him. Maudie shares one with Scout:

Stephanie Crawford even told me once she woke up in the middle of the night and found him looking in the window at her. I said what did you do, Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him? That shut her up a while.

In her conversation with Scout about Old Mr. Radley and Miss Stephanie Crawford, Miss Maudie is shown to be someone who has no use at all for hypocrisy.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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