Young children have no discrimination, no racism, no ideas that would cause other beings to be harmed. So then why are we, as adult humans, plagued by these demons that cause us to do and say hateful things? The answer may very well start in the home and the way we live.
Harper Lee compares and contrasts different families and societies in her novel To Kill a
Mockingbird to show that people’s actions are a result of how they live. The Ewells, the
Finches and the Radleys are all similar in some ways and different in others. Because of this,
Mayella Ewell, Scout Finch and Boo Radley have grown up or will grow up to be different people. Scout has learned never to judge anybody based on their outer appearances from
Atticus. She has also started to explore becoming a lady thanks to her two mother figures,
Aunt Alexandra and Calpurnia. Mayella Ewell grew up with a family that gave all of the responsibilities to her, and was abused sexually and physically by her father. She also learned to lie and go along with what her father was saying, otherwise she would get hurt.
Boo Radley’s parents expressed that family honor was more important than their son’s education and welfare when they didn’t send him to the industrial school and stowed him under the courthouse. Though their homes were different and they learned different lessons, they all learned what they lived.
Scout lives with her father, Atticus; her brother, Jem; her African American cook,
Calpurnia; and her Aunt Alexandra. These people all influenced her as friends, mothers, and role models. Scouts mother died at a time that was far back even in Jem’s memory. Because of this, Scout spent most of her time with Atticus, Jem, and later in life, Dill, all of whom were men. She was more of a tomboy than a lady, and she did not want to become a lady. But, not all feminine influence was lost. She had Calpurnia, who helped Scout realize that being a lady
is hard work; “She [Calpurnia] seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there might be some skill to being a girl,” (p. 154). Jem, who usually included Scout in his summer activities, had gone off on his own. Dill had not arrived, so Scout’s only other option was to be with Calpurnia in the kitchen. There,Scout witnessed
Calpurnia working. Scout, who had spent the previous summers with Jem and Dill, now recognizes that being a lady is not all that about gossip and dresses, petticoats and tea, and that it is hard work. In contrast, when Aunt Alexandra first appeared on the scene, she was all about gossip, dresses, petticoats and tea. The first impression that we get from her is a lady, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, Scout doesn’t want to be a lady, so Aunt Alexandra cannot influence her during the first part of her stay. But, during part two, Scout’s views on womanhood begin to change. They were majorly impacted based on Aunt Alexandra’s reaction when Tom Robinson died. We all know the horrid feeling of hearing that someone has died in a despicable way. Aunt Alexandra’s initial reaction was the same as anyones would be. The initial reaction wasn’t what impacted Scout, it was how Aunt Alexandra cleaned herself up:
"Stop that shaking," commanded Miss Maudie, and I stopped. "Get up,
Alexandra, we've left them long enough" Aunt Alexandra rose and smoothed the various whalebone ridges along her hips. She took her handkerchief from her belt and wiped her nose. She patted her hair and said, "Do I show it?" Not a sign," said Miss Maudie. (p. 317)
This is what made Alexandra so