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.