Why does Scout feel it wouldn't make much of a difference if Uncle Jimmy had come with Aunt Alexandra in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aunt Alexandra's relationship with her husband is a mystery. She leaves him at Finch's Landing to help Atticus during the few months leading up to the Tom Robinson case, but she never goes home. When she arrives in chapter 13, Scout asks her if she will miss her husband, but Alexandra ignores her. This is when Scout says, "Uncle Jimmy present or Uncle Jimmy absent made not much difference, he never said anything" (128). Scout also mentions Uncle Jimmy in chapter 9 during Christmas. She says that their son Henry was only produced during a burst of friendliness between them, but they pretty much live their own lives since Henry grew up and moved on with life. It seems as if Aunt Alexandra won't disgrace herself with a divorce from a man she despises, but she never goes back to him either. Divorce was not something many people did back then. They would get a legal separation sometimes, but never a divorce because that was humiliating. As a result, it's as if Uncle Jimmy isn't a part of the family because he isn't really a part of Aunt Alexandra's life anyway.

dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout feels that it wouldn't make much of a difference if Uncle Jimmy had come with Aunt Alexandra because, while her Aunt is forceful and opinionated, especially about Atticus's children's behavior, Uncle Jimmy "never said anything" (Chapter 13). 

Scout makes this same observation earlier in the book, at Christmastime.  She dreads the traditional Finch family get-together because of the inevitablity of tangling with Aunt Alexandra and Francis, Alexandra's grandson, who is about Scout's age.  Although Uncle Jimmy comes to this gathering too, Scout does not include him in voicing her antipathy, because "he never spoke a word to (her) in (her) life except to say, 'Get off the fence,' once" (Chapter 9).  Clearly, in Scout's mind, the presence of her innocuous Uncle is far overshadowed by his outspoken wife.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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