Why is Scout puzzled by Miss Gates’ disapproval of Hitler? Chapter 26 To Kill a Mockingbird

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird features the coming of age of Scout Finch. The moment in question helps to show that Scout's understanding of the world is emerging as she discovers hypocrisy among adults. Although this little girl might not know what the word hypocrisy means, the scene when Scout listens to Miss Gates bury herself in hypocritical and prejudiced speech illustrates that even little children know error when they hear it. For example, Scout connects Miss Gates's speech about Hitler and Jews with the situation she experienced just a couple of months earlier as she witnessed deep, prejudiced feelings from Miss Gates regarding the Tom Robinson case. In an effort to understand this paradox, Scout verbalizes her thoughts to Jem as follows:

"Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home—" (247)

Scout identifies Miss Gates as a hypocrite, but she doesn't know how to categorize the issue because she likely doesn't know that word. Not only that, and at the very heart of the matter, Scout doesn't understand prejudices, bigotry, or hypocrisy because of her innocence and inexperience with the adult world. She's smart enough to call a foul, but she doesn't quite understand why the foul exists in the first place. This is why Scout is so puzzled by her teacher's hateful words on the steps of the courthouse on the night of the trial compared to her sympathetic words for Jews in the classroom. Scout simply doesn't understand hypocrisy or the other issues tied to it. 

dbrooks22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout is puzzled by Miss Gates' disapproval toward Hitler because of Miss Gates’ outspoken prejudices against Tom Robinson. In chapter twenty-six, Miss Gates tries to explain the reason that Hitler persecutes the Jews:

‘That’s the difference between America and Germany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,’ she said. ‘Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Pre-ju-dice,’ she enunciated carefully. ‘There are no better people in the world that the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me.’

Miss Gates statement above puzzles Scout because, during the Tom Robinson’s trial, she saw how prejudice people were in Maycomb; she saw this with the conviction of Tom Robinson. Scout doesn't understand how Miss Gates can feel sympathy toward the persecution of the Jews but then feel nothing toward Tom Robinson who was convicted of rape because of his race.

zumba96 | Student

Scout rivaled Ms Gates because during this time because as she was going through the lesson she talked about how she felt sympathy for the Jews, however, did not feel sympathy for Tom Robinson and this was what was confusing for Scout because she saw Tom Robinson in the same situation, yet the other members of Maycomb did not see this. 

chirstopher | Student

actually the lesson was going on about the nazi germans and terefore miss. gates strongly disapproved hitler. but what made scout puzzled was that if miss gats dispproves hitler for his acts than why does she herself believes in status consciousness.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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