To Kill a Mockingbird

In what ways does Aunt Alexandra upset the Finch household?

This is from chapter 13

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Aunt Alexandra establishes herself in the neighborhood and continues to pester the children about what they should and should not do. She is old-fashioned and proper, and often refers to the people of Maycomb in light of their family history. She seems to believe that behaviors and character traits are hereditary, passed on from one generation to the next - one family might have a Gambling Streak, or a Mean Streak, or a Funny Streak. She also judges families on the basis of how long they have been settled in the same place. Those who have stayed on the same land for many generations are deemed "Fine Folks," whereas Scout always thought that "Fine Folks" were those who "did the best they could with the sense they had." Scout reasons that in Aunt Alexandra's eyes, the Ewells, who are very poor, are "Fine Folks," because they have stayed on the same land by the town dump for three generations, which clearly is not the case.

Aunt Alexandra wants the children to know all about the Finch family and uphold its genteel heritage, but Atticus has not introduced them to the entirety of their family history, and instead has told them amusing stories, such as how their cousin Josh went insane at university. Aunt Alexandra tries to pressure Atticus into telling the children why they should behave and "live up to your name." Atticus makes an attempt, but when Scout begins to get upset with this strange side of her father she has never seen before, he returns to his original principles and finds himself incapable of passing on what Aunt Alexandra deems important. Scout is relieved when her father returns to the same old Atticus, and says she knew what he was trying to do, but that "it takes a woman to do that kind of work."