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One thing that Scout learns from Aunt Alexandra throughout the course of the meeting in Chapter 24 is that this culture of Maycomb's female socialites is marked with codes and certain ways of "being a lady." More importantly for Scout, she learns that many of these ladies are hypocrites. Mrs. Merriweather ("Grace") is supposedly the most devout woman in Maycomb but her attitudes about the trial and her maid, Sophy, clearly reveal her stubborn racism. Miss Maudie challenges Mrs. Merriweather by saying "Her food doesn't stick going down, does it?" In other words, she is saying, 'You still eat Sophy's food and use her as your own personal servant.' Aunt Alexandra notes Miss Maudie's justified challenge to Mrs. Merriweather's supposed morality. In order to not upset the other guests but to also acknowledge that Miss Maudie was right to subtly point out Mrs. Merriweather's hypocrisy, Aunt Alexandra gives Miss Maudie a subtle nod:
She gave Miss Maudie a look of pure gratitude, and I wondered at the world of women. Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra had never been especially close, and here was Aunty silently thanking her for something. For what, I knew not. I was content to learn that Aunt Alexandra could be pierced sufficiently to feel gratitude for help given. There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.
At the end of the chapter, Atticus informs Miss Maudie, Aunt Alexandra, Scout, and Calpurnia that Tom has been killed. Aunt Alexandra is upset but composes herself and they return to the meeting, not mentioning anything about Tom. Scout learns (as she did when she went to church with Calpurnia) that people sometimes have to live double lives. That is, there are times when Alexandra must act a certain way with certain groups; one way with Atticus, another with the women's missionary circle. This is attributable to social and gender codes. This might make Alexandra seem like a hypocrite, but she acts 'proper' with the missionary ladies because it seemed like the right thing to do. In other words, pick your battles. Scout recognizes this and as much as she doesn't want to act like a lady, she determines, " . . . if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I."
Aunt Alexandra initially did not want Atticus to take Tom's trial. She was concerned for Atticus and the children, although she knows that it was the right thing to do. Alexandra is caught between two cultures: the social expectations of the ladies missionary circle and the righteous world exemplified by people like Atticus.
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