I need to find quotes that demonstrate how Harper Lee develops the definition of a lady or gentleman in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. I am writing in regards to the way men and women are expected to behave, dress, and speak.
1 Answer | Add Yours
There are many perspectives on what it means to be a woman, but it seems that Lee espouses a traditional understanding of what it means to be a lady. Women are tactful, dressed well, quiet, and less capable than men. Jem, though a youth says to Scout:
"I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that's why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with."
Aunt Alexandria, who is a better gauge to the sentiment of the adult world, feels the following about Scout:
"Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I [Scout] could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants."
Even Calpurnia, whom the reader immediately respects, models what it means to be a lady. Scout observes:
"[Calpurnia] seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl."
At another point in the novel, Calpurnia explains to Scout that women should be quiet, until there is an opportunity to speak. She says:
"It's not necessary to tell all you know. It's not ladylike—in the second place, folks don't like to have somebody around knowin' more than they do. It aggravates 'em. You're not gonna change any of them by talkin' right, they've got to want to learn themselves, and when they don't want to learn there's nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language."
Even Atticus, whose voice is nearly infallible, sees women in a frail light. He explains why women should not serve on juries.
"I guess it's to protect our frail ladies from sordid cases like Tom's. Besides," Atticus grinned, "I doubt if we'd ever get a complete case tried-the ladies'd be interrupting to ask questions."
Undoubtedly, the novel, as great as it is, is a product of its time.
We’ve answered 318,960 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question