What does Jem learn from Aunt Alexandria (either good or bad)?Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Aunt Alexandria arrives in Chapter13 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," she comes with the motive of "What Is Best For The Family."  The concept of family being of paramount importance, Aunt Alexandria

points out the shortcomings of other tribal groups to the greater glory of our own, a habit that amused Jem rather than annoyed him.

Jem is amused at the hypocrisy of his aunt's remark, for if one were to research the other families, there would be blood connections among them and the Finches.  And, he challenges Aunt Alexandria's reasoning that if a family has squatted "on one patch of land the finer it was" when he points out that the Ewells have been in one spot for generations:

'That makes the Ewells fine folks, then,' said Jem.  The tribe of which Burris Ewell and hiss brethren consisted had loved on the same plot of earth behind the Maycomb dump, and had thrived on county welfare money for three generations.

In Chapter 14, he perceives further her hypocritical attitude as she scolds Atticus for allowing the children to go to church with Calpurnia.  Evidently, it is all right for Calpurnia to cook and care for the children, but they must not go out in public with her.  When Atticus and Aunt Alexandria argue about Calpurnia's place in the Finch home, Jem takes Scout aside and tells her not to "antagonize Aunty" because their father has much on his mind with the Tom Robinson case pending.  While Jem displays a maturity, Scout, in little-sisterly fashion, is riled by his "superiority."  They, then argue and are sent to their rooms.  However, when Atticus and Aunt Alexandria pass by their doors, the children make sure that she hears them tell each other "Good-night."  Thus, in their loyalty to each other against her, they have also underscored her declaration of the importance of "Family."



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To Kill a Mockingbird

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