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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

THE STORY

PART TWO

CHAPTER 13

When the children and Calpurnia return from church they find that Aunt Alexandra, their father's sister has arrived for an extended visit. Aunt Alexandra is determined to make over Scout into a proper young lady, a prospect Scout views with horror. She also talks constantly about the importance of family background and "gentle breeding." Atticus lets the children know that he thinks Aunt Alexandra's snobbish pride in her ancestors is evidence of a twisted sense of values. He even tells them that the ancestor of whom Alexandra is most proud was nothing but a "sewer-inspector" who went crazy and tried to assassinate the president.


Nevertheless, Atticus insists that the children do their best to make Aunt Alexandra feel welcome. This is in part just one more proof of Atticus' willingness to tolerate the peculiarities and faults of others. But there is another reason for his attitude. Atticus knows that Alexandra's visit is a sign that she is taking his side against those who criticize him for defending Tom Robinson. So in this sense perhaps Aunt Alexandra's belief in the importance of family is not such a bad thing after all. Alexandra does not really understand why her brother is taking the side of a black man who is charged with being a dangerous criminal, but she will not turn her back on a relative in his time of need.  

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