In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are the major differences between Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra are both well developed characters in the novel. As Jem and Scout's neighbor, Maudie plays an important role in their lives. She is a compassionate and understanding woman with a great deal of common sense and some uncommon wisdom. Her moral values are strong and true; Maudie talks straight, says what's on her mind, and never treats the children in a condescending manner. She teaches them by example and helps them to better understand their father. She is their friend. Maudie does not suffer fools gladly. She loves her flowers, detests religious hypocrisy, and faces life with a positive attitude.

Aunt Alexandra is a strong personality, as is Maudie, but her character traits are not always appealing. Alexandra is conservative and opinionated, a close-minded Southern woman who clings to old social traditions. She is deeply class conscious, racially prejudiced, and inordinately proud of her family's heritage. Alexandra exhibits a strong sense of superiority. She is a snob. Alexandra is frequently harsh with Jem and Scout because she disapproves of their conduct, believing that Atticus is not bringing them up well. While she lives with them, Alexandra rules their daily lives as an unyielding authority figure. She does not understand them at all. Maudie understands them beautifully.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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