To Kill a Mockingbird

Why are women considered lesser, and how is that belief perpetuated by many and refuted by Atticus?

Scout observes a similar theme in Reverend Syke's sermon regarding women, which she has heard in her own church.

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Characters like Aunt Alexandra reinforce traditional gender roles in the American South. Atticus's sister has very strict, traditional ideas of how society works and the role a Southern woman should play. She earnestly tries to pass along this information to Scout, who is not particularly interested. Alexandra is concerned with raising Atticus's children "properly," and thus appears during the summer of Tom's trial to stay with them. Alexandra, like many people in the town, feels that women and girls should be kept away from "sordid" topics like sex and politics. Girls are meant to wear dresses and have tea parties. Atticus refutes these stereotypes by allowing Scout to wear overalls and encouraging Scout to be whoever she wants to be.