What chapter shows how hypocrisy is used in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Probably the two most obvious examples of hypocrisy occur during the Missionary Circle meeting (in Chapter 24) and from the mouth of Scout's third grade teacher, Miss Gates (in Chapter 26). Aunt Alexandra's church group is full of gossipy, back-biting women: In very unladylike fashion, Miss Stephanie criticizes Scout about her tomboy ways; and Mrs. Merriweather, "the most devout lady in Maycomb," implores the others to help the poor, uncivilized Mruna tribe in Africa, but then ridicules the actions of her Negro maid, Sophy. Later, Mrs. Merriweather--while eating the food which Atticus (who is deliberately absent) has purchased for the party--insults him in a roundabout way concerning his decision to defend Tom Robinson.

During a history lesson about modern-day Germany, Miss Gates deplores Hitler's treatment of the Jews. However, Scout remembers another conversation she has overheard Miss Gates have with Miss Stephanie when her teacher declared somebody needed to teach Maycomb's Negroes a lesson--

"... they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us."

Scout wonders how a person

"... can hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home--"

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 16 of To Kill a Mockingbird there is an instance of hypocrisy with the social ostracization of Mr. Dolphus Raymond.

Purportedly, Mr. Raymond is an alcoholic who drinks constantly, hiding his liquor in a brown paper sack from which two yellow drugstore straws emanate. He rides "drunkenly" upon his horse as he is believed to have a bottle of whiskey inside the brown wrapper from which he drinks. Before the trial begins as he is seen sitting with the blacks in the far corner of the square, Jem tells Scout that Mr. Raymond sips this whiskey all day, refilling his paper sack with a new bottle. 

Mr. Raymond lives by himself "way down near the county line," which is close to the black section of Maycomb. Rumor has it that Mr. Raymond was devastated by his bride's leaving him at the altar and then committing suicide. He has been "drunk ever since." Later, however, Mr. Raymond reveals the truth to the children when Dill is sick after Mr. Gilmer badgers Tom Robinson on the stand and they all leave the courthouse.

As he shares his Coca-Cola with Dill, Mr. Raymond tells the children that he provides the town with the idea that he is an alcoholic so that these hypocrites can disguise their racial hatred.

"[I]f I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond's in the clutches of whiskey--that's why he lives the way he does.

By being able to blame alcoholism on Mr. Raymond, the townspeople have an excuse for their racial bias and their rejection of Mr. Raymond, who prefers the company of black people to that of the white people. 

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, one of the most vivid scenes throughout the novel that portrays hypocrisy takes place in Chapter 26. During a Current Events activity in Scout's class, Cecil Jacobs dicussess how Hitler is persecuting the Jews over in Europe. Scout's teacher interjects and mentions that the difference between America and Germany is the lack of prejudice. Miss Gates comments that in America people do not believe in persecuting anybody, which means there is no prejudice. However, Scout immediately realizes Miss Gates's hypocritical statement. Later that night, Scout talks to Jem about Miss Gates's comment in class. Scout also tells Jem that she recalls overhearing Miss Gates make racist statements as she was leaving the courthouse following the Tom Robinson trial. Scout wonders how Miss Gates can hate Hitler but turn around and support the persecution of African Americans in her hometown.

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