What is the meeting in chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird about?

The meeting in chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird is formally about J. Grimes Everett’s missionary work in Africa trying to convert the Mrunas tribe to Christianity. However, the meeting quickly transforms into a gossip session where the local ladies reveal their racial prejudice and criticize Atticus for defending Tom Robinson. Scout’s experience attending the missionary circle highlights the prevailing hypocrisy in Maycomb’s Christian community.

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In chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns two important lessons as she joins her Aunt Alexandra in hosting a meeting of the Missionary Society at the Finch home. She learns about self-control, and she learns about hypocrisy.

Scout dresses up for the occasion, and she tries her best to act like a lady. Scout manages to carry the tea tray into the dining room without spilling a drop, and she sits quietly even when Miss Stephanie makes fun of her. Miss Maudie reaches over to take Scout's hand, and Scout continues to remember her manners and behave politely. Scout doesn't understand all of the ladies' conversation, but she controls herself throughout.

When Atticus comes in and calls Aunt Alexandra into the kitchen, Scout and Miss Maudie go with. Atticus relays the news that Tom Robinson is dead, shot to death by the prison guards as he tried to escape. To Scout's surprise, Aunt Alexandra takes the news hard, but when Atticus leaves, Miss Maudie helps her pull herself together, and they return to the meeting. Scout admires her aunt at this point and realizes that this is how a lady is supposed to act. She imitates her aunt and returns to the meeting as well, drawing strength from her aunt's example of self-control.

While the Missionary Society meeting is supposed to be about J. Grimes Everett and his missionary work in Africa, the ladies end up talking about their dissatisfaction with their African American servants. Their prejudiced views toward African Americans and toward Atticus for defending Tom appear clearly. Miss Maudie makes a pointed comment that stops the ladies in the midst of their rant, and Aunt Alexandra turns the conversation in another direction. But Scout has learned something important about the ladies of Maycomb—namely, that they are hypocrites. Their Christianity extends only as far as they want it to. They may be a Missionary Society, but the fail to see the oppression and suffering in their own community.

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Aunt Alexandra hosts a missionary circle at her brother’s home, where she and the local ladies discuss the “squalid lives” of the Mrunas tribe in Africa. Mrs. Grace Merriweather gives a report on J. Grimes Everett’s missionary work and displays her ignorance by describing Africa as a continent of “sin and squalor.” Mrs. Merriweather elaborates on the Mrunas tribe by telling the local women that the natives have no sense of family, subject children to terrible ordeals, and drink alcohol from a communal pot.

Scout sits quietly and listens as the women express their concern for J. Grimes Everett, who is fighting the good fight in a foreign land. The Christian women sympathize with J. Grimes Everett, and Mrs. Merriweather explains how they have no conception of what he is up against. While Scout observes the woman shake their heads in disbelief, Mrs. Merriweather looks directly at her and says, “You live in a Christian home with Christian folks in a Christian town.”

After briefly demonstrating their cultural bias and ignorance, the women begin to gossip about the Tom Robinson trial. The ladies display their prejudice by using racial slurs like “darky” and indirectly criticizing Atticus for defending a Black man. Mrs. Merriweather shows no concern for Alexandra or Scout and casually criticizes Atticus for promoting racial equality.

Miss Maudie ends up coming to Atticus’s defense by calling Mrs. Merriweather out. Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle displays the blatant hypocrisy throughout Maycomb’s community. The Christian function is nothing but a gossip session where the local ladies express their prejudiced beliefs and criticize people behind their backs. Scout feels extremely uncomfortable during the meeting but is able to keep her composure.

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Chapter 24 is all about the meeting of the Ladies Missionary Circle to discuss the course that Mrs. Merriweather is giving on the Mruna people of Africa. They discuss the missionary J. Grimes Everett's work and the poor people of the African jungle and their terrible conditions, according to Everett:

"The poverty...the darkness...the immorality" (Ch.24).

Mrs. Merriweather promised J. Grimes Everett that when she returned back home from her trip to his camp that she would teach a course on the Mrunas, and that is what the meeting in Ch. 24 is supposed to focus on.

Of course it goes in another direction entirely when the ladies of Maycomb begin talking about their hired help, all of whom are African-Americans. Their sympathy for the Africans in the jungle is not the same sentiment they have for their African-American servants, who they find to be ungrateful. Lee's point in this chapter, and of this meeting, is to show the hypocrisy of some of the good Christians of Maycomb.

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The meeting at the Finches’’ house in Chapter 24 is a meeting of Aunt Alexandra’s “missionary circle.”  The point of the meeting is to learn more about the Mruna people who live in Africa. 

The meeting is relevant to the book because it shows how hypocritical many of the women of the missionary circle (especially Mrs. Merriweather) are.  They seem to be deeply affected by the plight of Africans in Africa.  At the same time, though, they say horrible things about the African Americans there in Maycomb.  They show no regard for the feelings and humanity of those African Americans that they are in daily contact with even as they seem so concerned with Africans in Africa.

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