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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What does Scout learn from Aunt Alexandra? Do you like her or not? Why?

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"In To Kill a Mockingbird" from Aunt Alexandra Scout learns what occurs at the Missionary teas, how gossip is really what reigns in the discussions, how social prestige is lauded even amid "the soft bovine sounds of the ladies muching their dainties,"and how hypocrisy is the general motif.  For instance, it is all right for Calpurnia to fix meals for everyone in the Finch house, but she is not allowed to bake the tea-cakes.

Despite her remarks that she is more at home in her father's world where people like Mr. Heck Tate do not trap people with innocent questions to ridicule them, Scout, nevertheless, discovers later that Aunt Alexandra-for all her affectations and haughtiness--is loyal to her family.  She lovingly calls Atticus "brother" when he is chagrined by the verdict against Tom Robinson. 

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The things that Aunt Alexandra focuses on for the most part confound Scout as she desires to be free from the constraints of "lady-like society" and free to play and think more like her father.  Aunt Alexandra would like her to be more conservative and be bound by the traditions of the southern culture which she feels is incredibly important.  The one moment where Scout really appears to be influenced by Aunt Alexandra is when Scout notices with some small amount of pride that in the midst of all the furor over the trial and other events in the town, Aunt Alexandra maintains her composure and her "lady-like" demeanor which Scout admires and feels she can learn from.

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Scout learns many negative aspects about her Aunt Alexandra during the course of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout begs Atticus to skip the Christmas visit to Finch Landing because of her dislike of Alexandra and her grandson, Francis (Scout's cousin). Scout recognizes her aunt's high and mighty ways, especially concerning her misplaced pride concerning previous generations of the Finch family. Scout hates Alexandra's attempts to make her more lady-like, and she resents her aunt's haughty presence when she comes to stay with Atticus during the Tom Robinson trial. Alexandra is particularly cruel to Scout when she refuses to allow Walter Cunningham Jr. to visit the Finch home, calling him "trash."

However, Aunt Alexandra is not all bad. Scout sees her good side at the Missionary Circle meeting after Atticus reveals that Tom Robinson has been killed. Scout even determines that "if Aunty can be a lady at a time like this, so could I." Perhaps Alexandra's best moment comes after the children have been attacked by Bob Ewell. When her aunt brings clothes to put on afterward, Scout is stunned to see that

... Aunty brought me my overalls. "Put these on, darling," she said, handing me the garments which she most despised.

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