To Kill a Mockingbird

Comment on Aunt Alexandria's ideas about family life. How does Atticus feel about this?

It is between chapters 12 and 14

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Aunt Alexandra's views typify the general consensus of traditional assumptions held by the Maycomb community. She introduces the idea of "Fine Folks" to Scout, who will be forever perplexed about what criteria are used to determine whether or not a family fits this category. The rigidity of behavior patterns that Aunt Alexandra (and the rest of Maycomb) believe in demonstrate that individuals from white families also are subject to a certain amount of discrimination on the basis of their family's social stature. Individuals are not judged on their own qualities, but rather upon stereotypes forced upon their entire clan. Given the enormous amount of racism in Maycomb, it becomes incredibly unlikely that whites will treat blacks with respect. According to Aunt Alexandra's way of thinking, dishonesty and inferiority are traits somehow genetically endemic to the entire race.

Aunt Alexandra begins trying to form Scout into a proper Southern girl, and meets with much opposition. She has a strong idea of what Finch women should be like, based upon years of family tradition, and tries to impose this onto Scout. In this way, Scout is also a victim of this old-fashioned system for judging individuals, and as Aunt Alexandra tries to mold her into the image of Southern femininity, she gets a clear taste of what it is like to be held up to a stereotyped identity rather than being allowed to simply be herself.

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."