In To Kill A Mockingbird, who are the Mrunas and who is J. Grimes Everett?
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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee traces the discriminatory practices and the effects of such prejudice as it exists in the fictitious Maycomb County. The story is told through the eyes of Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, the daughter of Atticus, the lawyer who will defend the wrongly accused Tom Robinson. There is racial prejudice, arrogance, superiority and certainly religious bigotry in Maycomb County as the townspeople judge everyone else but never themselves and base their judgments on misguided principles applied separately. As Dolphus Raymond tells Dill:
"Cry about the simple hell people give other people- without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people too."
The residents of Maycomb County do think that they help those less fortunate and that they are "fighting the good fight." The references to J Grimes Everett, although the reader never meets him, show the duplicity of many of the townspeople as they preach about Christian values whilst only selectively applying them themselves. Grimes Everett is a missionary, working in Africa with the Mruna Tribe, as the only "white person'll go near'em," and Aunt Alexander is meeting with her missionary circle who will presumably raise funds for the "saintly" J Grimes Everett and his work with the Mrunas who live in "sin and squalor."
When Aunt Alexandra meets with her missionary circle, Mrs. Merriweather talks about J. Grimes Everett, who is a missionary working with "those poor Mrunas." This is a tribe of people living in Africa for "not a white person'll go near'em but that saintly J. Grimes Everett." Harper Lee's satire is cutting here, for the "good" women pretend to worry about the black Mrunas while having no respect for the black people of her own community. In addition, her attitude is not caring but condescending and paternalistic. Note the way Lee names the missionary "J. Grimes," so that his name says something about his personality--that it is "grimy."
This is a good question. The Mrunas are an African tribe. J. Grimes is the missionary who is working among them.
In chapter 24, Mrs. Merriweather is speaking to her missionary women's group about the work that J. Grimes is doing. On the one hand, this shows that Maycomb is a Christian town. It even shows compassion and charity to some extent. But the import of the chapter is really about the blindness of Mrs. Merriweather and the other women, who are representative of the people of the town.
Within this conversation, Mrs. Merriweather shows her true colors as a woman of little compassion and great blindness in her hypocrisy. I quote at length to show what kind of person she is.
Mrs. Merriweather faced Mrs. Farrow: “Gertrude, I tell you there’s nothing more distracting than a sulky darky. Their mouths go down to here. Just ruins your day to have one of ‘em in the kitchen. You know what I said to my Sophy, Gertrude? I said, ’Sophy,‘ I said, ’you simply are not being a Christian today. Jesus Christ never went around grumbling and complaining,‘ and you know, it did her good. She took her eyes off that floor and said, ’Nome, Miz Merriweather, Jesus never went around grumblin‘.’ I tell you, Gertrude, you never ought to let an opportunity go by to witness for the Lord.”
The juxtaposition shows that Mrs. Merriweather and the others in Maycomb are blind to their sins and issues. If they did a little more for their own community (instead of far off places), Maycomb would be a better place.
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