In "To Kill a Mockingbird" why is Atticus not really concerned in explaining to Jem and Scout about their family's history?In chapter 13, Atticus tried to explain to Jem and Scout that they are...

In "To Kill a Mockingbird" why is Atticus not really concerned in explaining to Jem and Scout about their family's history?

In chapter 13, Atticus tried to explain to Jem and Scout that they are 'products of several generations of gentle breeding' and that they should behave themselves like a little lady and gentleman. But he gave up in the end. (Why?) He is like the exact opposite of Aunt Alexadra, who is fanatical about this subject. What is the reason for him doing so??

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major themes of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is that it really doesn't matter where you come from, who your ancestors are, or what social class you belong to--it is the "content of your character" that truly matters and makes you a good person or not.  Atticus is the main champion of this theme, as he takes on a case for the black Tom Robinson-a man on the lowest rung of the social ladder, and a case that is guranteed NOT to win simply because Tom IS black.  Alexandra represents the other viewpoint that many people in Maycomb hold, that class matters, and that where you come from determines how you should behave, not what is right.  And because Aunt Alexandra is living with them, and helping take care of the kids, Atticus at times tries to put through her perspective on things.  Does the quote you listed really sound like Atticus?  "You are products of several generations of gentle breeding"?  That does not sound like him at all; rather, it is more likely a direct quote from Aunt Alexandra that Atticus is using in an attempt to be respectful to some of her views since she is, after all, family, and helping him out.  But, since it's not really his belief--he believes that you should never judge a person on anything but their behavior--he fizzles out at the end.

I hope that those thoughts make sense; good luck!

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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