To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Using Francis and Scout as examples, whose method of upbringing in To Kill a Mockingbird was more successful, Alexandra's or Atticus'?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I should point out that Cousin Francis is actually Alexandra's grandson. Francis is the son of Henry Hancock, "who left home as soon as was humanly possible." Henry and his wife "deposit" Francis with Alexandra and her husband, Jimmy, every Christmas, so Scout's cousin really does not spend as much time at Finch Landing as one might assume. The fact that Henry left Finch's Landing as quickly as possible indicates that he may have tired of his own parents' upbringing; the rural atmosphere of the area may have also been a consideration. Scout does say that Francis "enjoyed everything I disapproved of," so the two are about as unlike as Alexandra and Atticus. Francis is obviously a spoiled brat, but that is probably due to his own parents' upbringing than that of Alexandra. Francis thinks highly of Alexandra; he loves her cooking (this is one thing that both Scout and her cousin can agree upon), but he also takes Alexandra's word as gospel. He takes Alexandra's opinion that Atticus is a "nigger-lover" to heart, but probably more to antagonize Scout than anything else. Unlike Scout, Francis seems to enjoy spending most of his time with Alexandra in the kitchen, displaying an effeminate side that is quite opposite that of the tomboy Scout. Francis obviously fears Scout, hiding behind Alexandra after hurling insults at his younger cousin. Scout does display an independent nature not found in Francis, and she is wilier, luring Francis into the open so she can "split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth." 

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littutor | Student

Francis comes across as more "polished" - he says and does the right things when adults are present, whereas Scout comes across as an uncivilized little girl who curses and gets in fights. However, in Chapter 9, Francis insults Dill and then proceeds to call Atticus a "nigger-lover" for defending Tom Robinson. He provokes Scout and then, when the adults come out, pretends that she has started the fight. This chapter shows that although Francis may appear to be more "civilized" than Scout, he lacks character and is actually small-minded. Aunt Alexandra's method of upbringing has resulted in a boy who says and does the right thing - but Atticus has taught Scout to think for herself, to try to do the right thing, and to be tolerant of other people and other races. Even though she might get into trouble sometimes, Scout clearly has more character and integrity than her cousin Francis.

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