What values and behaviors did Aunt Alexandra try to impart to the children in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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GENTLE BREEDING.  Aunt Alexandra is a firm believer in this, but it is a term that Atticus tries to explain to the children without much success. It has to do with not being "run-of-the-mill people" and being descended from "beautiful character[s]" such as the family poet (and oddball) Joshua S. St. Clair. Generations of gentle breeding also teach children to "behave like the little lady and gentleman that you are."

FINE FOLKS.  Another of Alexandra's unclearly definable terms, Scout and her aunt disagree on the exact nature of Fine Folks. To Alexandra, they are Maycomb's oldest families, and "the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was." Scout defines Fine Folks differently.

I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had."  (Chapter 13)

FAMILY HERITAGE.  Scout "never understood her preoccupation with heredity." Alexandra believes that the Finch family stands head and shoulders above all of Maycomb's other families, and that all other families are burdened with "morbid" streaks:

Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.  (Chapter 13)

Finches do not associate socially with some families, such as the Cunninghams, and this is one reason why Alexandra will not allow Walter Jr. to come and play with Scout, since "he--is--trash..."


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