In Chapter 24 of To Kill A Mockingbird, what is the purpose of Aunt Alexandra's tea party?

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In Chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Aunt Alexandra's tea party is ostensibly for the purpose of discussion of the missionary objectives of the ladies of the Maycomb Alabama Methodist Episcopal Church South.  However, the ladies, who are as pretentious as the name of their church, mainly congregate for social purposes.

Chapter 24 is an effective chapter in Harper Lee's portrayal of the hypocrisy present in the society of Maycomb:  Calpurnia, who is good enough to cook for the Finch family is not allowed to make the teacakes for the ladies of the church.  Scout is made to wear a dress and act like a lady before Mrs. Merriweather and the others, the ladies have an African mission to which they send aid, but Mrs. Merriweather complains about her maid Sophy who "grumbles" and act in an "unChristian" manner.  Yet, she merely pays the woman a dollar and a quarter every week.  Moreover, while they have their religious meeting, the women mainly gossip.

This chapter is what is known as a "set piece," a scene meant to stand alone, and is used by Lee to portray the racial prejudices of the Maycomb elite.

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