To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

Submitted By kchubregsen
Words: 719
Pages: 3

Defying Standards

In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, the women have to decide to conform to society’s expectations or break away from the social norm of the 1930s. Jean Louise Finch (Scout) finds it difficult to please her Aunt Alexandra and her traditional values. As the story develops, Scout takes this issue head-on and never gives into stereotypical women’s roles. She decides to stay true to her bold and outgoing personality, no matter what others around her think. Thus, Lee uses Scout’s behavior and appearance to challenge feminist views. To begin with, Scout’s behavior demonstrates her opposing view on typical women’s mannerisms. Scout is portrayed as an intense character that has a masculine side. When her family comes into town, Scout becomes very defensive about her father Atticus. Francis, Scout’s cousin, goes around calling Atticus a “nigger-lover” (84) and Scout can’t help but get into the mind set of fighting, “I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth. My left impaired, I sailed in with my right…” She chooses to fight because she feels it’s the only way to get her point across. Rather than ignoring it like other women would, she isn’t afraid to fight over what she believes in. Traditional women’s roles of the time would have suggested she be submissive to the subject and move on. However, she challenges the status quo and is defiant by standing up for what she thinks is inappropriate and offensive behavior. Actions speak louder than words do. While saying something to a person can affect them for a short period of time, the actions one takes in life can perceive them in a certain way for the rest of his or her’s life.
Additionally, Lee portrays Scout’s un-ladylike attire through dialogue and thoughts. Aunt Alexandra believes in women being proper, having good social manners, and dressing appropriately. However, Scout is more free-spirited, independent, and in general, a tomboy. Whenever her Aunt Alexandra comes into town, there is immediate tension between the two. When Alexandra comes in for Christmas, she and Scout instantly clash, “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire” (81). From reading this passage, it becomes evident that Aunt Alexandra is against the way Scout dresses. Lee uses the word fanatical to show the foil between the characters. Scout believes that Aunt Alexandra is overstepping her boundaries because of the interest she has in what Scout wears. Aunt Alexandra believes that women should dress maturely in a “Sunday corset”, “protective garments that drew up [the] bosom”, or something “formidable” (128) and women are not “supposed to be doing things that required pants” (81). Alexandra then goes on to say that Scout “could…