What are some direct quotes of hypocrisy by Aunt Alexandra in To Kill A Mockingbird?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are a few more quotes that demonstrate Aunt Alexandra's hypocrisy, especially in the context of her later behavior:

(1) To all parties present and participating in the life of the county, Aunt Alexandra was one of the last of her kind: she had river-boat, boarding-school manners; let any moral come along and she would uphold it.

(2) “…you’ve got to do something about her,” Aunty was saying. “You’ve let things go on too long, Atticus, too long.”

(3) “And don’t try to get around it. You’ve got to face it sooner or later and it might as well be tonight. We don’t need her now.”

Quote (1) demonstrates Aunt Alexandra's impeccable manners and piety. However, it also hints at Aunt Alexandra's hypocrisy—especially in the context of her later behavior. She clearly won't uphold any moral she encounters, since her values clearly don't include equal treatment for people of color. Thus the "morality" referenced here is the superficial morality of the white ruling class—not the product of her own reflections.

Quotes (2) and (3) also demonstrate Aunt Alexandra's hypocrisy to some degree. Although Calpurnia has done nothing to merit Aunt Alexandra's distrust, the latter continues to treat the African American housekeeper with suspicion and tries to remove her. Aunt Alexandra's famed charity apparently does not extend to Calpurnia; she feels that Calpurnia is a bad influence on Scout simply because she isn't white. 

Aunt Alexandra is convinced that Atticus should remove Calpurnia from her position as the children's main caretaker. For his part, Atticus remains unconvinced that Calpurnia's presence is detrimental to Scout and Jem. Aunt Alexandra's behavior demonstrates that her religious piety is superficial in nature. She takes great pains to portray herself as an upstanding and moral member of society. Yet she harbors decidedly racist attitudes toward the African American community in Maycomb. In short, the above quotes demonstrate Aunt Alexandra's hypocrisy.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    Atticus's sister Alexandra finds fault with many things in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but she is hardly a perfectionist in any sense of the word.
    Aunt Alexandra believed that heredity is all-important in determining the character of an individual. As the Finch family is one of Maycomb's oldest, she thinks highly of herself and all family members, including her cousin, the writer, Joshua St. Clair. However, when Scout points out that Joshua "was locked up for so long... he tried to shoot the president," Alexandra stood "stiff as a stork. "That's all," she said. "We'll see about this."
    Aunt Alexandra believes that Atticus is a poor father, and that Jem and Scout need a stricter upbringing. But her own child, Henry, has done an abysmal job with his son, Francis. "Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover," he declared to Scout. And then to deliberately antagonize Scout, he 

... crooned softly, "Nigger lover..." 
    This time I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth.

    In Chapter 23, Alexandra refuses to allow Walter Cunningham Jr. in the house, declaring that the Cunninghams may be good folks, but "they're not our kind of folks... he--is--trash..." 
    Later in the chapter, Alexandra's missionary circle meets to discuss the fate of the poor African tribe, the Mrunas. The women declare sympathy for the Mrunas, but Mrs. Merriweather and Mrs. Farrow soon begin to denounce the black citizens of Maycomb. When Miss Maudie fires back, Alexandra "gave Miss Maudie a look of pure gratitude." Although Alexandra herself did not join in on the anti-Negro talk, she continues to ingratiate herself and be hospitable to the women who had just spoken in such an un-Christian-like manner.   

davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Aunt Alexandra's mission circle meeting at the Finch residence Atticus reveals to his sister that Tom Robinson has been shot no fewer than seventeen times while trying to escape from prison. Aunt Alexandra, though stunned at the news nonetheless manages to compose herself before returning to her civilized little social gathering as if nothing has happened. Alexandra is happy to sit with the other church ladies and discuss the importance of converting the natives in Africa in Christianity, but when an African American male is brutally killed on her own doorstep, her main concern is with keeping up appearances as a refined Southern lady. Scout notices:

Aunt Alexandra looked across the room at me and smiled. She looked at a tray of cookies on the table and nodded at them. I carefully picked up the tray and watched myself walk to Mrs. Merriweather. With my best company manners, I asked her if she would have some. After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.

Nor will she confront the ladies when they make derogatory remarks about African Americans. Again, what matters to her more than anything else is that a ladylike appearance must be maintained at all times.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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