What can you learn from the women of Maycomb about proper behavior and improper behavior?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best place to see this is in chapter 24 at the Missionary Society Tea.

This scene is brilliantly written.  It is a classic scene of upper-white-Christian-hypocrisy.

The main subject of the conversation is basically about black people in society not knowing their place.  The ladies talk on and on about being good Christians, and giving money for mission work in other countries, and not complaining, and other 'what-would-Jesus-do' stuff... but the core of the hypocrisy is in the underlying tone they all take that black people are not equal to white people.  To summarize the attitude: They have a place.  That place is beneathe us. And as a result of the trial they are getting all "stirred up" and some white folks are encouraging it.  Outrageous!

Another huge irony in this scene is that the ladies are indirectly attacking Atticus and Scout doesn't even realize it.  The best line is on p. 234 (in the paperback).  Scout is thinking to herself:

"There was something about them that I instinctively liked... they weren't - " when Mrs. Meriweather interrupts her thoughts with:

'Hypocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites.'"

It is the perfect finish to the sentence.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 24, the ladies of Maycomb attend Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle at Atticus's home. While the women are dressed in their finest outfits to discuss J. Grimes Everett's missionary work in Africa, the conversation quickly shifts to the atmosphere of the community following the Tom Robinson trial. The Christian women begin to complain about their black servants, and Mrs. Merriweather indirectly criticizes Atticus for defending Tom Robinson. Scout takes note of their hypocrisy and recognizes how the seemingly morally-upright Christians behave as racist, insensitive individuals behind closed doors. Also, Aunt Alexandra remains composed at all times and appears to be unaffected by Mrs. Merriweather's comment regarding Atticus, as well as her brother's news concerning Tom Robinson's unfortunate death. Scout learns from her aunt the importance of maintaining a composed demeanor at all times regardless of circumstances. Harper Lee scrutinizes hypocritical Christians in chapter 24 by illustrating the racist undercurrent expressed by the female citizens during the missionary circle.

alanna12 | Student

during certain scenes of the novel we can tell that the women of maycomb that they are not sincere, as they “discuss” the certain things and then move on to town gossip and their snacks. The ladies simply gossip and don’t truly care about anyone other than themselves.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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