In Chapter 24 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," Scout learns the deeper meaning of what it is to "act like a lady." For, the ladies of the Ladies Missionary Society do, indeed, act. This drama is portrayed best by Mrs. Merriweather who cries as she relates the pitiable state of Mrunas in Africa who live in desperate povery, uncleanliness, and ignorance. However, after she finishes her report to the other ladies, she makes innuendos about the blacks in Maycomb who are causing trouble since the verdict was handed down to Tom Robinson:
Gertrude, I tell you there's nothing more distractin than a sulky darky.....Jesus Christ never went around grumbling and complaining.
Mrs. Merriweather's last syllable lingers, Scout narrates, like the last note of the organ, lasting until all the air is gone. Then, Mrs. Merriweather even makes insinuations about Scout's father as she says there are some
misguided people in this town...[who] thought they were doing the right thing a while back, but all they did was stir 'em up.
Then, the woman who has so much charity in her heart for the Mrunas continues by saying that if the depression were not going on, she would let her sulky Sophy go instead of giving her the dollar and a quarter a week for her maid services.
Having sat through the tea, Scout reflects,
I must soon enter this world....But I was more at home in my father's world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you...There was something about them [men] ...no matter how undelectable they were, there was something about them that I instinctively liked....they weren't--
And, then Mrs. Merriweather says what the French call the mot juste, the perfect word, herself: "Hypocrites."