To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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In Chapter 9 of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, how do other people expect Scout to behave in particular ways? What do you think these expectations say about the society in which the novel is set?

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Maycomb, Alabama has a culture that has been in place for generations.

In the 1930's, before industry came to the South, there was very little mobility to the populations of towns. As a result, among whites there was a definite culture that developed with these people who were all essentially descended from inhabitants of the British Isles.

These Old World values consisted of behaving in a ladylike manner if one were a girl.  Scout mentions that Aunt Alexandra admonishes her often about being lady-like. Atticus promises "he would wear me out if he ever heard of my fighting any more." He also urges her to "[T]ry fighting with your head for a change." 

When Scout asks him about the Tom Robinson case and his being called pejorative names, Atticus tells her to remember that no matter what happens, the people in town are still their friends and "this is still our home."

In another instance, Scout begins to use inappropriate words, hoping that when Atticus hears her, he will let her stay home. But Uncle Jack counsels Scout that night, "Honey, you can't go around calling people--"

In a previous episode, Francis insults Atticus, calling him a n****r-lover. Scout cannot resist, and she hits Francis hard. She begs Uncle Jack not to tell Atticus because he has encouraged her to ignore insults relative to the Tom Robinson case. 

While there is a code of behavior among family members that all understand, there is also an accepted attitude that it is all right to disparage people of color who are outside of the level of society in which the white townspeople live, or to insult those who are sympathetic to them, as some people perceive Atticus because he is going to try to really defend Tom.

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