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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In chapter 13 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus says to Jem and Scout, "Don't you worry about anything. . . .It's not a time to worry." What does he mean by this?

In chapter 13 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus says to Jem and Scout, "Don't you worry about anything. . . .It's not a time to worry." What does he mean by this?

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Aunt Alexandra has come to visit. The children’s mother is dead, so she has come to give them some “feminine influence”.  She also was concerned that the children know the importance of their heritage.

"…Aunt Alexandra’s appearance on the scene was not so much Atticus’s doing as hers.  Aunty had a way of declaring What Is Best For The Family, and I suppose her coming to live with us was in that category.” (pg 129)

Aunt Alexandra was obsessed with heredity.  She felt that the longer a person lived on a certain piece of land, the finer the family.  Scout says,

"Aunt Alexandra fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me.” (pg 131-132)

When Aunt Alexandra would be entertaining the ladies of Maycomb, she would call Scout in to say hello.  She asked Scout to say hello to her cousin, Lily Brooke, and Scout said that she didn’t know Lily Brook was her cousin.  Aunt Alexandra was displeased that Atticus had not taught his children about the Finch family.  She went and returned with a book, Meditations of Joshua St. Clair, stating that their cousin had written that book.  All the children knew was that Cousin Joshua tried to shoot the president of the University.  It cost the family five hundred dollars to “….get him out of that one.” (pg 132)

Because of this conversation, Aunt Alexandra talks to Atticus, and Atticus visits the children in Jem’s room that night. Atticus tells them that Aunt Alexandra,

“……asked me to try and impress upon you and Jean Louise that you are not from run-of-the-mill people, that you are a product of several generations’ gentle breeding……She asked me to tell you you must try to behave like the little lady and gentleman that you are.  She wants to talk to you about the family and what it’s meant to Maycomb County through the years, so you’ll have some idea of who you are, so you might be moved to behave accordingly. (pg 133)

Jem and Scout are silent.  They don’t know what to say.  Finally Scout asks Atticus if all this behaving is going to change things between them.  She is asking whether he is going to back Aunt Alexandra on this, and what is going to happen to their relationship

That is when Atticus suddenly backs up and replies,

“Don’t you worry about anything……It’s not time to worry.”  (pg 134)

He is basically telling them that they are still children and should enjoy being children.  There will come a time when they should be aware of this, but the time is not now. 

When Scout asks him,

“You really want us to do all that?  I can’t remember everything Finches are supposed to do……” (pg 134) 

Atticus responds,

“I don’t want you to remember anything.  Forget it”(pg 134)

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