What is an example of society's viewpoint on southern women at the time of history in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    Women are still considered the fairer yet weaker sex in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The author certainly treats women with a more even hand than a male writer might have, but the fact remains that in 1935, the female of the species did not enjoy equal status with the male counterpart. Perhaps the most obvious example is that women were not yet allowed by Alabama law to serve on a jury; thus, the all male delegation during Tom Robinson's trial. Atticus's final summation supports this idea of women as the weaker sex.

"... the evil assumption--that all... Negro men are not to be trusted around our women..." 

    Although many of the women in To Kill a Mockingbird are independent and strong-willed (such as Miss Maudie, Scout and Calpurnia), they are nevertheless viewed as different because of this manly streak. Scout's refusal to wear a dress is considered unladylike, and Miss Maudie's opinionated viewpoint is suggested as a reason for still being single. Calpurnia's educational skills are unusual for a black women, since most of her church's congregation cannot read. Mrs. Dubose is feared because of her strong tongue. Many of the women are seen as gossipy (Miss Stephanie), hypocritical (Miss Gates, Mrs. Farrow), or just overbearing (Aunt Alexandra)--traits that would not be considered at all unusual in a Southern man of the times.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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