To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is ironic about the missionary circle's conversation in chapter 24?  

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Anne Riley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The hypocrisy of the Maycomb community is clear in the tea scene in which the missionary ladies discuss the Mrunas and Maycomb. It is quite ironic that people who preach a Christian life do not see how un-Christian they act.

Mrs. Merriweather is the lead hypocrite as she spews nonsense about supporting T. Grimes Everett who is "living in that jungle" with "nothing but sin and squalor." Her eyes tear whenever she talks about the Mrunas, who are oppressed. She says she's going to bring Everett's message to Maycomb and encourages to "forgive and forget." She then brings up Tom Robinson's widow who should "lead a Christian life for those children" and forgive and forget. Next, she complains that black servants were upset after Tom's trial. "You know what I said to my Sophy . . . you simply are not being a Christian today. Jesus Christ never went around grumbling and complaining." Finally, Mrs. Merriweather brings up the "good but misguided people" who think they're helping but are actually hurting Maycomb because "all they did was stir 'em up." Her racist, hypocritical, ignorant remarks finally spark Miss Maudie to speak up: "His food doesn't stick going down, does it?" Mrs. Merriweather is insulting Atticus as she sits in his house and eats his food. She is pretending to be charitable and to feel sorry for the oppressed who live far away, yet she is part of a community that oppresses people.

The irony lies in the discrepancy between people's words and actions. Mrs. Merriweather represents a large group of people who do not recognize that their words and actions conflict. They claim to be Christians, yet they judge and believe they are better than others. They treat black people as inhuman servants, and they cannot see their own faults.

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katemschultz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are several instances of irony. First, the ladies are a missionary circle--ladies from the church that get together to aid in church activities, plan events and other helpful activities. Instead of doing that, they mostly sit around and gossip and talk poorly of others in the community--not a very "holy" activity.

The ladies begin talking about J. Grimes Everett and how he's helping the poor Mruna tribe over in Africa. The women are supportive of his efforts helping this tribe (whose members are black) halfway across the world, but the ladies think it's disgusting to even think about helping the blacks in their own community.

Mrs. Merriweather says she's upset with her black maid, Sophy, for being sulky and upset after the verdict of Tom's trial. Mrs. Merriweather said she told Sophy to cheer up, the black community had it coming, and if Sophy didn't cheer up, Mrs. Merriweather would fire her. A horrible way to treat someone who has just suffering a blow. Mrs. Merriweather also says she only keeps Sophy around because Sophy needs the money--which probably isn't true. Mrs. Merriweather seems like the type who likes to be waited on.

Lastly, Mrs. Merriweather begins to speak poorly of Atticus and his decision to defend Tom. She has the nerve to do this in Atticus's house, in front of Atticus's sister and daughter, while eating the food Attius's purchased with the money he was paid for defending Tom.

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kelseyeborall | Student

Because they are a church group that is supposed to get together and talk about church and what not. and all they do is sit around and talk about gossip, and all they do is discriminate.