How does Aunt Alexandra develop as a sympathetic character in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 13 when Aunt Alexandra arrives in Macomb, she first issues orders to Calpurnia about the placement of her suitcase, then she announces that Atticus and she decided "it was time I came to stay with you for a while." Soon, Scout learns that her aunt's visit is not without drawbacks. For one thing, according to Aunt Alexandra Scout should wear dresses, not overalls. And, she and Jem need to learn that they are not people,...that [they] are the product of several generations' gentle breeding....

Shortly after Alexandra is there, Scout overhears her aunt wanting to dismiss Calpurnia and Atticus raising his voice.

 Later, Scout is made to dress up and attend her aunt's Missionary Tea; then, Scout is made to endure listening to Mrs. Merriweather's not-so-subtle criticism of her maid and of Atticus's being the defense attorney of Tom Robinson. When Miss Maudie's cryptic remark silences Mrs. Merriweather, Aunt Alexandra displays a look of gratitude because, even though she disapproves of her brother's defense of Tom Robinson, she resents the women's pettiness of Mrs. Merriweather. And, when Atticus informs his sister that Tom has been killed, Alexandra is sympathetic, knowing how this news bothers her brother.

After Atticus leaves, Alexandra takes her hands from her face and speaks to Miss Maudie,

"It tears him to pieces. I've seen him when--what else do they want from him, Maudie, what else?"

"....They're perfectly willing to let him do what they're too afraid to do themselves--it might lose'em a nickel." 

Miss Maudie consoles her and tell her how many people do respect Atticus. Hearing this, Scout thinks much better of Aunt Alexandra, and she grows in affection for her, especially as her aunt expresses more loyalty for Atticus.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question