In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Aunt Alexandra in particular oppose Atticus's ways of raising his children and his defense of Tom Robinson? 

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aunt Alexandra is the type of woman who lives in the past. She thinks that the family name is important and should be carried on for generations to come. Of course, Scout and Aunt Alexandra don't see eye to eye on things. Aunt Alexandra has a clear sense of what young girls should be and Scout does not fit in that mold. 

Aunt Alexandra is upset with her brother, Atticus, for the way he is raising his children, especially Scout. She thinks that the children need a woman's touch since their mother died when the children were so young. In Aunt Alexandra's view, Atticus should have taught the children what it meant to be a Finch. To her, it is an honor to be a Finch and the children need to learn that respect and carry on in a fashion that is complimentary to the Finch name. She thinks Atticus has failed. However, her biggest problem with Atticus is the way he raises Scout. Scout is allowed to wear overalls, get in fights, swear, run with the boys and be a tom-boy. She believes that Scout needs to learn the ways of being a woman.

"Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my appearance. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing is 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; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father's lonely life."

On the subject of Tom Robinson, at first Aunt Alexandra is not for Atticus taking the case. Aunt Alexandra is worried about how it will reflect on the family name. Scout overhears them arguing one night about it:

"She won't let him alone about Tom Robinson. She almost said Atticus was disgracin' the family."

Aunt Alexandra cares so much about the family name and anything that might put a stain on it. She looks at Tom Robinson as a stain on the family. She doesn't want the disgrace of her brother representing a black man. It would reflect badly on the family, in her opinion. However, in the end, Aunt Alexandra loves her brother. She may not agree with everything he does, but she wants only the best for him.

"I can't say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he's my brother and I just want to know when this will ever end... It tears him to pieces."

In the end, Aunt Alexandra had some very harsh views, but she was full of love for her family, and that is all we can hope for.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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