What is ironic about the last gossipy words of the ladies of the missionary group since the family has just heard of Tom's death?

Expert Answers

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I never really thought about it, but this last section is pretty clever.  It's like changing radio stations and then linking what one station is saying and tying it into the next phrase of the next section.  Sometimes that can be pretty funny.  The conversations blend into each other in the last couple of paragraphs. 

"Yes, Mrs. Perkins, that J. Grimes Everett is a martyred saint, he...needed to get married so they ran...to the beauty parlor every Saturday afternoon...soon as the sun goes down.  He goes to bed with the...chickens, a crate full of sick chickens, Fred says that's what started it all."

It's ironic because the women were praising Everett for doing exactly the type of work that Atticus is doing, yet they criticize Atticus right there in his own house.  The comical aspect of this paragraph is that it begins with one person speaking of Everett, and then the training words of other conversations make it sound like he ran off with a woman (scandalous) and then sleeps with chickens (crazy).  So the "saint" Everett sounds like the quack he probably is--and Harper Lee is getting in her last words to remind the reader who the true hero is in this story:  Atticus Finch.

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