In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Aunt Alexandra not approve of Scout?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alexandra's disapproval of Scout is seen in Chapter 9, rather than in Chapter 8, during the family visit to Finch's Landing at Christmas. Scout recalls that she heard her father "speak sharply" to Alexandra. He said, "Sister I do the best I can with them!" Scout knew their conversation concerned her wearing overalls most of the time; obviously, Alexandra did not approve of how Scout dressed or how she was being raised. Scout then explains her aunt's disapproval:

I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra's vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born . . . .

Aunt Alexandra strongly disapproves of Scout's tomboy ways, which hurts Scout's feelings. She is comforted, though, because her father does not share Alexandra's disapproval. Atticus tells Scout to "go on about [her] business." He accepts her as she is and sees no reason for her to become someone she isn't.


mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aunt Alexandra doesn't approve of much that Scout does. She hates the way she dresses, can't believe that Atticus allows her to curse, and disapproves of her friends. She confronts Atticus, but Atticus is going to raise his children the way he sees fit. Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to be more lady-like and thinks that because she is a Finch, she should start acting like it.

Aunt Alexandra is very one-dimensional when we first meet her. We see that being a member of a good family is very important to her, and she believes that anyone who has the family name should act a certain way. She is very concerned that Atticus doesn't care how Scout is acting. Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to become a woman of society and Atticus is not raising her that way. 

Although Aunt Alexandra doesn't change much, we do see her soften towards Scout. We begin to understand that when Aunt Alexandra was being raised, it was a different way of life. Atticus is raising his children to be caring and upstanding citizens, and that is all we can hope for as parents.

price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Scout doesn’t have a mother, Aunt Alexandra probably has an overwhelming need to step in and not only mother Scout, but make Scout into a proper Southern “lady.”  The Finches are also a well-respected family in Maycomb and should be keeping up appearances indicative of their social class.  Scout, however, doesn’t care about “appearances” and wears “breeches”, climbs trees, and plays with the boys, Jem and Dill.  Scout is also very out-spoken, fights at the drop of a hat, and even curses.  Although Aunt Alexandra confronts Atticus about Scout’s behavior, Atticus wants Scout to be who she wishes to be.  Scout does act like a lady when she helps serve Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle, but this unusual appearance in a dress is short-lived.  Aunt Alexandra eventually accepts Scout to a certain extent, but she never really gets over the fact that Scout is determined, willful, and will never fit the stereotype of a Southern lady.   

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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