Give and explain three examples of hypocrisy in Chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout learns many things about the women who attend the missionary circle of the Maycombe A.M.E. Church South in this chapter. Even before the tea,

Ladies in bunches always filled me with vague apprehension and a firm desire to be elsewhere...

Mrs. Grace Merriweather, "certainly... the most devout lady in Maycomb," proves to be the most hypocritical women in the room. She laments about the terrible conditions of the Mruna tribe in Africa, promising financial aid and support for the missionary who is attempting to Christianize them. But her charity obviously does not begin at home: She resents the mood of Maycomb's black population, who are unhappy with the conviction of Tom Robinson, and she considers firing her maid, Sophy, for being "sulky."

Another example of Mrs. Merriweather's hypocrisy comes when she criticizes Atticus (without naming him)--in his own house--for his "misguided" decision to defend Tom, all the while eating the food and refreshments that Atticus has purchased for the tea party. Miss Maudie angrily responded,

"His food doesn't stick going down, does it?"

A third example of Mrs. Merriweather's pretentiousness comes when she criticizes First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visit to Birmingham in support of equal rights for Negroes. Calling the First Lady a "born hypocrite(s)," Mrs. Merriweather claims that

"... we don't have that sin on our shoulders down here... Down here we say you just live your way and we'll live ours."

But even young Scout recognizes the real hypocrites,

... where on its surface, fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently and drank cool water.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Aunt Alexandra hosts a Missionary Tea for the ladies of Maycomb. It seems somewhat hypocritical of her to have had Calpurnia involved in the preparation of refreshments for this day when before, in chapter 13, she prevented Calpurnia from making "the delicacies required to sustain the Society through long reports." Judging from the comments of the ladies when Calpurnia serves them, she has been permitted to bake this time.

" . . . I never can get my crust like this, never can . . . who'd've thought of little dewberry tarts . . . Calpurnia? . . . who'da thought it . . . " (Ch.24)

Also, on this particular day, Calpurnia is needed to serve the ladies. Earlier, however, after Aunt Alexandra arrived in Maycomb, she suggested to Atticus that he let Calpurnia go: "We don't need her now." (Ch.14)

Later on in the day, Atticus comes home to ask Calpurnia to accompany him to Helen Robinson's to comfort her over the fateful news about Tom's death. The faithful members of the Maycomb A.M.E. Church South, who have earlier commiserated with Mrs. Merriweather over the living conditions of the Mrunas in Africa, give no thought to the plight of one black citizen and his family in Maycomb. As Miss Maudie serves in place of Calpurnia, the women refill their coffee cups, "dishing out goodies as though their only regret was the temporary domestic disaster of losing Calpurnia." (Ch.24)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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