What  does this simile mean:  "Aunt Alexandra fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand  in a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aunt Alexandra fits into the world of Maycomb because she adheres to the standards and traditional values of the Old South and the Jim Crow South of the 1930's. However, as the children of the progressive Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout do not easily relate to Alexandra's standards and opinions.

Like the other ladies of Maycomb, Aunt Alexandra believes in "fine folks" and good breeding. One's name and relatives are of paramount importance because they determine what a person is, according to Alexandra. However, Atticus has taught his children that a person should not be judged by his family name and his relatives but, instead, be evaluated on his behavior and how he treats other people.

Aunt Alexandra fits well into the world of the Maycomb women because of her ideas on family breeding and the proper handling of maids and other domestic help. Also, she loves to gossip, she dresses properly, and she is a gracious hostess at teas and family gatherings. Much like the other ladies of Maycomb, Aunt Alexandra likes to "arrange, advise, caution, and warn." She does not fit into the world of Jem and Scout because it is a male world in which there is little gossip, much physical contact, sports, and outdoor activities such as running and rolling inside tires, climbing trees, and firing air rifles. Social and racial differences are not matters of crucial importance, either. 

Like their father, whom they call "Atticus" rather than the traditional address of "Daddy," the children hold no racial or social biases. However, Aunt Alexandra is indignant when she learns that the children have accompanied Calpurnia to her church one Sunday. She is also appalled that Jean-Louise is a tomboy who wears overalls and fights by punching her opponent. 

 

lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Scout makes this observation, she is referring to Aunt Alexandra's connections to Maycomb, and her (Alexandra's) easy adjustment into the routines and neighborhood gossip of the community.  Alexandra believes strongly in "good families", believes that the Finches fit this description, and although she doesn't state it directly, she is a firm believer in the social structure of the Old South, particularly as it applies to whites' superiority over blacks.  She and Atticus experience conflict at times; Atticus has worked hard to teach his children to be respectful of people, even Calpurnia--even though she is black.  Atticus doesn't really understand all the fuss made by Southerners on the subject of blacks:  "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up is something I don't pretend to understand." So when Scout observes that her aunt does not fit into the world of her and her brother, she is probably somewhat referrng to the conflict in values that sometimes occurs between Alex and Atticus; she is probably also referring to Alexandra's ongoing and largely unsuccessful campaign to turn Scout into a proper, Southern young lady, and to make both children mindful of what she considers to be the Finches' superior Southern pedigree. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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