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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What is Francis' attitude toward the Finches in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Scout's Cousin Francis really doesn't have any original ideas of his own: He simply repeats what he has heard from other members of the Finch family, and Atticus's relatives apparently weren't very happy about his decision to defend Tom Robinson. Most of Francis's unkind words come directly from his "Grandma"--Atticus's sister, Alexandra. Francis tells Scout that

"... Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I'm here to tell you that it certainly does mortify the rest of the family."  (Chapter 9)

and that Atticus is "ruinin' the family"

"... now he's turned out a nigger-lover we'll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again."  (Chapter 9)

It is obvious that Alexandra has many concerns about Atticus and that she is perfectly willing to air the family business in the presence of children (though Francis may have gotten some of his information from his own parents). Francis also claims that "Grandma says"

"... Uncle Atticus lets you run around like stray dogs..."  (Chapter 9)

Francis doesn't seem to take Scout's family seriously, and he shows little respect toward his Uncle Atticus. Alexandra has long maintained the need for Scout to become more "ladylike," and she probably believes that Jem and Scout have far too much unsupervised freedom in Maycomb. When Francis (whose greatest loves are cooking and clothing), resorts to taunting Scout with "nigger-lover," it shows a clear division in the two sides of the Finch family: Alexandra, who still employs a Negro chauffeur, uses the "N" word constantly (at least, if we can believe Francis), and believes that Atticus's defense of the black man accused of raping a white woman will destroy the family name. Atticus's more liberal racial views will not allow his conscience to turn down defending Tom, and he professes to Scout that he tries to love everyone--black or white. Alexandra and Francis represent the old ways of the South, while Atticus (and, to some degree his brother, Jack) and his family illustrate the slow change taking place in Depression-era Alabama. 

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