How is Aunt Alexandra a good mother figure to Jem and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Aunt Alexandra displays some positive character traits throughout the novel, which are similar to characteristics of good mothers. It is important to remember that Aunt Alexandra has the children's best interest in mind. She values heritage, community service, and behaving respectfully. Alexandra attempts to teach the children about their family history and also tries to influence Scout into becoming a Southern belle. However, Alexandra is overly critical of Scout throughout the novel. She continually offends Scout by acting condescending and criticizing her for behaving like a tomboy. Alexandra also portrays her prejudiced personality by making racist comments and preventing Scout from playing with Walter Cunningham Jr. Despite her negative qualities, Alexandra genuinely cares about the children and displays her softer side towards the end of the novel. The more Scout matures, the more she can relate to her aunt. Aunt Alexandra is also an authority figure that keeps a close eye on the children. 

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sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Aunt Alexandra believes in discipline and family togetherness.  She tries to teach Scout and Jem how to behave like acceptable children of their time - meaning like a little lady and little gentlemen.  She tells them of their family history to give them pride and a sense of belonging.  She tries to protect them from what is happening in town by withholding information from them.

However, the children do not react well to her.  They feel that she is condescending, and that she does not listen to their own opinions.  They prefer the parenting of Atticus, who allows them to establish their own identity and believes in giving them information with which to assess the world around them, in an unbiased manner.

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