Aunt Alexandra is the typical Southern belle who enjoys socializing with her female neighbors, being involved in the community, and dressing like a presentable, delicate woman. In contrast, Scout is a tomboy who enjoys wearing overalls and playing outside with the boys. Aunt Alexandra views Scout with contempt and wishes to reform her appearance and behavior throughout the novel. Alexandra continually criticizes Scout for her unladylike behavior and attempts to turn Scout into a presentable young lady.
In chapter 9, the Finch family gets together to celebrate Christmas, and Scout elaborates on Aunt Alexandra's particular views concerning her appearance and behavior. Scout says,
"Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I 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. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year" (Lee, 83).
Alexandra's comments regarding Scout's attire and the fact that she gave Scout a necklace demonstrates her attempts to reform Scout's lifestyle. Aunt Alexandra makes it clear to Scout that she needs to start behaving in a more ladylike fashion and stop acting like a tomboy.
In chapter 13, Aunt Alexandra moves into Atticus's home to watch the children and teach Scout how to become more ladylike. As soon as she enters Atticus's home, Alexandra comments on Scout's unrefined behavior by saying, "Jean Louise, stop scratching your head" (Lee, 128). Aunt Alexandra then tries to get Scout acclimated to the art of socializing. When several neighborhood ladies visit their home, Aunt Alexandra tells Scout, "Jean Louise, come speak to these ladies" (Lee, 133).
Aunt Alexandra also attempts to teach Scout and her brother about their rich family history. Alexandra values heredity and thinks that it is necessary to understand one's ancestry. After the visiting ladies leave the house, Aunt Alexandra shows Scout and Jem a book entitled Meditations of Joshua S. St. Clair. Alexandra proceeds to tell the children, "Your cousin wrote this . . . He was a beautiful character" (Lee, 133). After discovering that Scout and Jem have no idea about their family history, Aunt Alexandra petitions Atticus to educate his children on their ancestry. Atticus proceeds to tell his children,
"Your aunt has asked me to try and impress upon you and Jean Louise that you are not from run-of-the-mill people, that you are the product of several generations’ gentle breeding—" (Lee, 134).
In chapter 23, Scout mentions that Walter Cunningham Jr. should spend the night so that they can play together. However, Aunt Alexandra disapproves of Scout playing with any Cunningham child because the Cunninghams occupy a lower social class and there is a "drinking streak" in their family. Alexandra tells Scout,
"The thing is, you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem. Besides, there’s a drinking streak in that family a mile wide. Finch women aren’t interested in that sort of people" (Lee, 228).
Alexandra prefers Scout to interact with wealthier children from revered families and does not want her learning any bad habits. Alexandra's prejudiced views are also revealed when she elaborates on her reasoning for not allowing Scout to play with Walter Jr. When Scout asks why she cannot play with him, Alexandra responds,
"Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what" (Lee, 228).
In chapter 24, Alexandra exposes Scout to how women socialize and properly behave by inviting her to the missionary circle. Scout is forced to wear a dress and says,
"Aunt Alexandra told me to join them for refreshments; it was not necessary that I attend the business part of the meeting, she said it’d bore me" (Lee, 231).
Despite Scout's initial trepidation, she finds the "world of women" fascinating. Scout's minor change in perspective indicates that she is gradually accepting her feminine side. Overall, Aunt Alexandra challenges Scout's lifestyle and attempts to change her into a well-mannered, polite young lady. By exposing her to constant criticism and experiences with properly-behaved women, Alexandra hopes to turn Scout into a Southern belle.