In Chapter 24,why is Mrs.Grace Merriweather a hyprocrite?Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At Aunt Alexandra's tea, Mrs. Grace Merriweather and the others make insuiation about each other and pretend to be so interested in some the African tribes while, at the same time, they criticize their own black cooks and servants.  By observing them, Scout sees how difficult it is to "be a lady."

In Chapter 24 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," Mrs. Merriweather, whose husband is a "faithful Methodist under duress," is considered the most devout lady in Maycomb.  In truth, however, she is a Pharisee because her eyes "fill with tears" when she relates the "poverty....the darkness....the immorality" of the Mrunas in Africa.  Yet, when she concludes her sermon, she makes insinuations about "that darky," poor Tom Robinson's wife, saying that "we just need to let them know we forgive 'em...this whole thing'll blow over."  Her reference to the Robinson's is in respect to the dissatifaction of the cooks and field hands over the verdict of the trial. Of course, the forgiveness, if any should be given, should be rendered by the blacks for the injustice done to Tom, not by the likes of Mrs. Merriweather.

Like the Pharisee that she is, Mrs. Merriweather, in her sanctimonious way, does not perceive herself realistically.  In great situational irony, she declares ,

'Hyprocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites,....At least we don't have that sin on our shoulder down her....People up there [the North] set 'em free, but you don't see 'em settin' at the table with 'em.  At least we don't have the deceit to say to 'em yes you're as good as we are but stay away from us.  Down here we just say you live your way  and we'll live ours....'

All this is said while her tears for the Mrunas are problably still not dry.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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