What is Scout's relationship with Aunt Alexandra like in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Scout does not have a very close relationship with her aunt. Even though they are family, Scout's childhood is very different from what Aunt Alexandra experienced. As a result, Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to act and dress like she, Alexandra, did when she was a little girl, and Scout doesn't understand why. Aunt Alexandra constantly projects her views and opinions onto Scout and most of them are difficult for the little girl to understand. Aunt Alexandra is not an affectionate person, either, so the way she projects her opinions onto Scout seems brazen at times. For example, Aunt Alexandra doesn't like Scout wearing pants. When Scout argues that she finds it difficult to do certain things in a dress, her Aunt says that she shouldn't be doing anything that requires pants. In the same conversation, Scout also remembers the following:
". . . Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge. . ." (81).
What Aunt Alexandra doesn't understand is that the way to change a child's behavior is through love, not through bossiness. Because there is a huge generation gap, too, Scout notices the following when Aunt Alexandra comes to live with them in chapter 13:
"Aunt Alexandra fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me" (131-132).
Aunt Alexandra brings her opinions with her when she moves in and they don't help her to connect with her niece at all. In fact, when Scout feels the desire to befriend Walter Cunningham, Jr., Aunt Alexandra puts another wall between herself and Scout by telling her that she can't be friends with the boy. When Scout asks why she can't be friends with Walter, Aunt Alexandra says the following:
"Because—he—is—trash, that's why you can't play with him. I'll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what. You're enough of a problem to your father as it is" (225).
Aunt Alexandra is just as prejudiced as other white people in Maycomb. Because of this, and the way she treats her niece, Scout does not bond with her aunt. Scout knows that she must obey Aunt Alexandra, but even that is difficult for her sometimes. Therefore, Scout and Aunt Alexandra are not close, they don't have much in common, and they struggle to live with each other for the most part.
Aunt Alexandra comes onto the scene like a bull in a china shop. She is opinionated and very concerned about what society says is right. Scout dislikes her tremendously from the beginning. Aunt Alexandra criticizes the way Scout dresses, the way Atticus raises his children and complains about some of the things Cal does. Aunt Alexandra's judgmental attitude does nothing for Scout. Atticus asks his sister to come and help out while the trial is going on. Scout and Jem are not thrilled at the prospect of having their Aunt watching them, but they go along with what Atticus says.
As the story moves along, Scout and Aunt Alexandra begin to see each other in a different light. Scout spends more time with her and sees what it would be like to have a mother figure in her life. She begins to open up more and trust her aunt. Aunt Alexandra has become very attached to the children. She becomes less strict and seems to finally be able to relax a little.
By the end of the story, Aunt Alexandra truly loves the children. When the threat from Bob Ewell becomes more real, Aunt Alexandra is really concerned for the safety of Jem and Scout. On the fateful night of the Halloween pageant, we see the real fear of Aunt Alexandra. When she hands Scout a pair of overalls to change into after that fateful night, we see that Aunt Alexandra and Scout have forged a bond that will last a lifetime.
The first time we meet Aunt Alexandra, the relationship she has with Scout is contentious. Aunt Alexandra dislikes just about everything about Scout because she does not act like a girl. Part of this stems from Alexandra's disapproval of the way Atticus raises his children and it also stems from sterotypes of how a girl/boy should act. After Aunt Alexandra moves in, she begins to see that Atticus is doing a good job raising his children and by the time we see Aunt Alexandra host the missionary tea, Scout is beginning to see Auntie in a new light. By the end of the book, their relationship has come full-circle. Aunt Alexandra is deeply worried about the kids and the attack by Bob Ewell. The final action that shows the two have come to understand and like each other is when Auntie gives Scout her overalls to put on after the attack; the "old" Auntie never would have done that willingly.