What shows that Scout has a new respect for Aunt Alexandra?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra hosts a missionary circle at her brother's home and the local ladies stop over to socialize about current events. Atticus interrupts the missionary circle to speak with Calpurnia, and Alexandra, Maudie, and Scout follow them into the kitchen. In the kitchen, Atticus explains to the ladies that Tom Robinson attempted to escape from Enfield Prison Farm and was shot seventeen times by the guards. He then requests that Calpurnia take him to Helen Robinson's home to tell her the news about Tom's death. This moment is extremely tragic and tense, and Aunt Alexandra is visibly upset about her brother's difficult situation. She sympathizes with Atticus and understands how hard it must be for him to deal with Tom's death following the exhausting trial. Miss Maudie then offers her words of encouragement and Alexandra composes herself before returning to the ladies waiting in the living room. Scout and Maudie follow her into the living room and Scout watches as Alexandra begins socializing with the ladies in a calm, composed manner. Scout then begins serving the ladies cookies and reveals her new respect for her aunt by saying,

"After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I" (Lee, 241).

rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Aunt Alexandra is hosting the missionary circle, Atticus comes to the house and calls her to the kitchen. Scout sees how Aunt Alexandra reacts to the news of Tom Robinson's death. Aunt Alexandra is obviously distressed by the horrible shooting. She puts her hands to her face, her voice shakes, and Scout thinks she may be crying. Aunt Alexandra then shows her disgust with the town--that they have let Atticus "do what they're too afraid to do themselves," namely, to stand up for the rights of the black residents in the town. This gives Scout an understanding that Aunt Alexandra is a compassionate woman after all. When Aunt Alexandra is able to pull herself together, despite how upset she is, and go out to graciously serve the women she has just railed against, Scout sees how strong her aunt is. Aunt Alexandra nods toward Scout and the tray of cookies. Scout mimics her aunt's manners and poise as she passes around the tray of cookies "with my very best company manners." Scout concludes, "If Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I." She begins to see the value of her aunt's constantly insisting that she behave like a lady. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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