Why Does Mrs. Merriweather tell Scout that she is “a fortunate girl”?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 24, we're at the Finch residence, where Mrs. Merriweather, the most devout woman in town, is attending a meeting of Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle. She gives the group a little talk on the lives of the Mrunas, a remote African tribe among whom J. Grimes Everett has been conducting missionary work. As well as living in extreme squalor, the Mrunas are ignorant of the Christian religion and supposedly steeped in sin, hence the need for Everett's evangelizing. Though apparently sympathetic to the Mrunas' desperate plight, Mrs. Merriweather, as with other members of the missionary circle, makes derogatory remarks about African Americans.

Turning to Scout, Mrs. Merriweather contrasts the little girl's life with that of those poor, benighted souls out in Africa:

"Jean Louise," she said, "you are a fortunate girl. You live in a Christian home with Christian folks in a Christian town. Out there in J. Grimes Everett’s land there’s nothing but sin and squalor."

Mrs. Merriweather's remarks are ironic indeed. This is the very day on which Tom Robinson has been shot dead by prison guards, trying to escape after being falsely convicted of raping a white woman. The previous chapters of To Kill A Mockingbird provide us with ample evidence of sin and squalor in Maycomb. Unfortunately, the likes of Mrs. Merriweather are unable or unwilling to see this.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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