Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

What does Scout think about Mrs. Grace Merriweather in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 24, Scout attends her aunt's missionary circle and listens as the local ladies discuss J. Grimes Everett's missionary work in Africa and current Maycomb news. Mrs. Grace Merriweather is described as being certainly "the most devout lady in Maycomb" and Scout listens as she discusses the terrible environment in Africa. After listening to Mrs. Merriweather's cultural ignorance, Scout hears her discussing how the church should help a poor woman lead a Christian life. When Scout asks if she is talking about Mayella, Mrs. Merriweather displays her racist personality by saying,

"May—? No, child. That darky’s wife. Tom’s wife, Tom—" (Lee, 235)

Mrs. Merriweather then proceeds to ridicule her black housemaid for being upset with the verdict of the Tom Robinson trial and indirectly criticizes Atticus for defending Tom. Fortunately, Miss Maudie intervenes by passively chastising Mrs. Merriweather for criticizing Atticus in his home. Overall, Scout is not fooled by Mrs. Merriweather's Christian appearance and status in the community. Scout perceives Mrs. Merriweather as a racist hypocrite, who promotes racial prejudice and enjoys gossiping behind people's backs.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although "For certainly Mrs. Merriweather was the most devout lady in Maycomb," Scout leaves the Missionary Circle tea with a less-than-satisfactory opinion of the woman. A "childless" lady with "large brown eyes" and black, curly hair, "Mrs. Merriweather played her voice like an organ." She condescends when talking with Scout, and Scout finds it funny when she sings "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..." It is obvious to Scout that Mrs. Merriweather is deeply concerned with the oppressed Mruna tribe in Africa--"her eyes always filled with tears"--but Scout soon sees that the lady has little love for the black citizens of Maycomb. She makes most unladylike comments about her maid, Sophy, and Tom Robinson's wife, Helen, before moving on to criticizing Atticus, which draws the ire of Miss Maudie. Scout decides that Mrs. Merriweather is a hypocrite and that the only two real ladies in the room are Maudie and Aunty.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team