What is J. Grimes Everett's role in the book To Kill a Mockingbird?

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

J. Grimes Everett is a missionary who lives with the Mruna tribe in Africa. A discussion of his work exposes the hypocrisy of Mrs. Grace Merriweather and the rest of the women's missionary circle.

As Mrs. Merriweather tells Scout about Everett and the difficult lives of the Mruna tribe, she completely ignores the injustices occurring in her own backyard. Though she and the others see Everett as "saintly" for his work, they are not moved to do their own good deeds closer to home. She tells him that "the ladies of the Maycomb Alabama Methodist Episcopal Church South are behind you one hundred percent" and says she also pledged in her heart to return home, "give a course on the Mrunas and bring J. Grimes Everett's message to Maycomb." 

Though she's discussing this message, Mrs. Merriweather and the others seem to miss the point. For example, she says some of the men should go out and try to convince Tom Robinson's wife to lead a Christian life. She doesn't appear interested in doing it herself and speaks with prejudice, calling Tom Robinson "that darky." Later she says, "There's nothing more distracting than a sulky darky" and says that they can ruin your day. She has no concern in her heart for people unlike herself.

Everett's role in the book is to illustrate the hypocrisy of the women in attendance at the missionary circle as well as the deep racial injustices that exist in Maycomb.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

J. Grimes Everett is mentioned in chapter 24. He is a missionary in Africa. According to Mrs. Merriweather, he is working among the Mrunas, who are living in "sin and squalor." 

He does not play a role in the book in a direct way. The purpose of introducing him is to show the blindness and racism of Mrs. Merriweather and other inhabitants of Maycomb. 

From the surface, all seems well in Maycomb. It is a sleepy Southern town, and the people are Christian and they even care about missionary work in Africa. However, as we look deeper, there is racism, hatred, and feelings of arrogance. If Mrs. Merriweather really wanted to help blacks, then should would do something about the situation in Maycomb. She would stand up for innocent men, such as Tom Robinson. The fact that she did none of these things says that she is hypocrite. 

So, J. Grimes Everett is in the novel to expose the real heart of Mrs. Merriweather and many others in Maycomb.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

J. Grimes Everett is mentioned several times in Chapter 24, but he never makes an actual appearance. Everett is a missionary who has traveled to Africa to live with Mruna tribe, and Mrs. Merriweather met him at a church camp. The purpose of the Missionary Circle tea is to discuss the matter of the Mrunas (and probably drum up some financial support for Mr. Everett). According to Mrs. Merriweather, Everett claims that the Mrunas (who are non-Christian) live in "sin and squalor." So she has pledged to deliver his message to the Missionary Circle. Everett is more than likely a white Methodist minister.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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