Are the Missionary Tea Society ladies hypocrites? Why or why not?

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Missionary Tea Society was made up of many women from different religions: Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists  Some of these women were hypocrites, and others were not. The purpose of the society is to spread Christian values, but many comments are made that are not very Christian.

Mrs. Merriweather, a faithful Methodist, gave a report on the lifestyle of the Mrunas, an African tribe, to the group.  She talked afterward of J. Grimes Everett's work among the Mrunas.  She idolizes him.  She says,

"Not a white person'll go near 'em but that saintly J. Grimes Everett" (pg 230)

She also affirms,

"I made a pledge in my heart. I said to myself, when I go home I'm going to give a course on the Mrunas and bring J. Grimes Everett's message to Maycomb and that's just what I'm doing." (pg 231)

Ironically, he is working with an African tribe.  He tells her,

"Mrs. Merriweather, you have no conception, no conception of what we are dealing with over there." (pg 231)

That is so true.  Immediately following her conversation about J. Grimes Everett, she says,

"I tell you there's nothing more distracting than a sulky darky.  Their mouths go down to there.  Just ruins your day to have one of them in your kitchen." (pg232) 

Mrs. Farrow joins in with her opinion. 

"We can educate 'em till we're blue in the face, we can try till we drop to make Christians out of 'em, but there's no lady safe in her bed these nights. " (pg 232)

Ironically, Mrs. Merriweather replies,

"I tell you thre are some good but misguided people in this town.  Good, but misguided." (pg 232)

She is talking about Atticus, but that comment can most definitely apply to her and Mrs. Farrow.  Her last comment was,

"I tell you if my Sophy'd kept it up another day I'd have let her go.  It's never entered that wool of hers that the only reason I keep her is because this depressions's on and she needs her dollar and a quarter every week she can get it." (pg 233)

Finally Miss Maudie has to say something.  She puts Mrs. Merryweather in her place. Scout notices,

"Something had made her deeply angry, and her gray eyes were as cold as her voice.  Mrs. Merriweather reddened, glanced at me, and looked away.  I could not see Mrs. Farrow." (pg 232)

Aunt Alexandra gives Miss Maudie a look of gratitude, starts serving refreshments again, and tries to change the subject.  So, Mrs. Merriweather and Mrs. Farrow are hypocrites, but Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra keep in the spirit of the meeting.

The page numbers are from my edition of the book, but they should be close.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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