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The Missionary Tea scene is in many ways the opposite of the Black Church scene. Where the Black Church shows Scout the merits of the Black community, where everybody supports everybody and the people act respectable and kind, the Missionary Tea shows Scout the hypocrisy of the white Maycomb "ladies". These two scenes paint a picture of Maycomb and make the racism that happens seem all the more disgusting.
How does the Missionary Tea contrast with the Black Church?
A lady who deeply cares for her family but does not value justice as much as honor or being a lady.
A man who writes an article that compares Tom's condemning to the senseless slaughter of songbirds.
A man who justifies his actions to others by pretending to be an alcoholic, and would rather live with the Blacks than in the hypocrisy of Maycomb.
A man who disperses a lynch mob at a jail after listening to a compassionate little girl.
A woman who symbolizes the hypocricy of Maycomb, crying for the oppression of the Mrunas, yet complains about the sulky darkys depressing her day and treats all Blacks as if they needed to apologise to her and were responsible for Tom's alleged crime.
Atticus' parenting plays the biggest role in terms of education in To Kill A Mockingbird. In the book, education is more about instilling a moral conscience in somebody rather than memorizing or understanding facts. This is shown in the development of Scout especially throughout the book. Her struggle seems from the beginning to be to understand the lessons Atticus teaches her, and she slowly starts maturing and gaining enough experience to really understand. There are a few examples of how this is true, including when Scout points out Miss Gates' hypocrisy about Hitler and Blacks to Atticus, but the most important and culminating moment of understanding is when Scout stands on Boo's porch, sees the world through his eyes, and steps into his skin, finally seeing him as a person rather than a monster, and finally understands the lesson she has been trying to learn from the beginning about walking around in others' skin. The novel's conclusion about education is that the most important lessons are those of sympathy and understanding, and that a sympathetic, understanding approach is the best way to teach these lessons.
How is education explored in TKM?
It seems that in Maycomb, there is a social heierarchy that is based on the economic status of a family. The Finches are near the top, the Cunninghams are in the lower end, the Ewells are second from the bottom, and the Blacks are at the very bottom, and there seems to be no way to "jump levels". If you are born a Cunningham, by virtue of this system you are a lower class citizen. Bob Ewell takes advantage of this when he prosecutes Tom Robinson, stepping on the Blacks to make himself more important- to "have his fling with everybody".
Explain Maycomb's caste system.
Before this quote, Scout is talking about a book in which a character is wrongly accused of something and prosecuted, but when indicted is proven innocent. Scout tells Atticus that the character was a very nice person once "they finally saw him", and Atticus agrees, alluding to his belief that most people are very good despite their capacity for evil. Atticus' strength and love towards the end of the book, sitting by Jem's side during the entire night, serves as a resolution of the tension and danger of the previous few chapters and the trial, and the book ends in peace.
EXPLAIN: "When they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice. . . ." His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.
This is Scout's perception of the world from Boo's eyes. She stands on the porch and imagines the world from his perspective, recapitulating the major events of the book as Boo would have seen them. This passage serves as the epitome and culmination of Scout's character development and the entire book, as it shows both how Scout has finally understood the lessons Atticus has tried to teach her from the beginning by seeing the world sympathetically from another's perspective and the books' moral epitome, the idea of good and evil coexisting in humanity, and that stepping in others' shoes is the only way to really see a person. Once you see them, they are more often than not very nice. Remember, Boo was once a monster, now he is a protector and endearing character to both Scout and the reader.
ANALYZE: A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishing pole behind him. A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips. Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention. It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's. . . . Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive. Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog. Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him. Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.
During the Missionary Tea, Scout realizes that being a lady is harder than it looks, and has much merit, because it involves moral courage and hardiness as well as acting polite and composed. In stark contrast with being a man, being a lady means that when something terrible happens, you must retain a facade composure and refinement for both your benefit and others'. Scout and Aunt Alexandra do this by continuing to be civil and composed to their houseguests even though Tom Robinson has just died and the Maycomb ladies symbolize the very reason he did.
How does Scout turn into a lady at the Missionary Tea? What do we realize about being a lady?
By reminding Mr. Cunningham the compassion and humanity involved in being a person, and the true goodness of a child. She appeals to his conscience in a way that makes him realize the full implications of what he was about to do, and he cannot bring himself to do it anymore. Instead, he reciprocates the civility and kindness that Scout had just shown him and breaks up the mob.
How does Scout break up the lynch mob?
Because he didn't want them to defend him with the argument that he had to, or to think he did it because he had to. He wanted them to understand that he did it because it was the right thing to do.
Why doesn't Atticus tell Jem and Scout that he had no choice to take the case?
A just, fair man who believes that "People see what they look for and hear what they listen for." He appointed Atticus to the Tom Robinson case.
Who said: "Nig***-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything - like snot-nose. It's hard to explain - ignorant, trashy people use it."
Who said: "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here - they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?"
Who said: "It's not necessary to tell all you know. It's not ladylike - in the second place, folks don't like to have somebody around knowin' more than they do. It aggravates 'em. You're not gonna change any of them by talkin' right, they've got to want to learn themselves, and when they don't want to learn there's nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language."
Who said: "Uncle Jack Finch says we really don't know. He says as far as he can trace back the Finches we ain't, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin' the Old Testament... But around here, once you have a drop of Negro blood that makes you all black."
Who said: "No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards."
Who said: "It was just him I couldn't stand," [...] "That old Mr. Gilmer doin' him thataway, talking so hateful to him - [...] It was the way he said it made me sick, plain sick. [...] The way that man called him 'boy' all the time an' sneered at him, an' looked around at the jury every time he answered-[...] It ain't right, somehow it ain't right to do 'em that way. Hasn't anybody got any business talkin' like that - it just makes me sick."
Who said: "Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."
Who said: "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for, and they have the right to subject their children to it, but I can assure you of one thing: you will receive what you see and hear in silence or you will leave this courtroom, but you won't leave it until the whole boiling of you come before me on contempt charges."
Who said: "Cry about the simple hell people give other people - without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too."
Who said: "I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it - seems that only children weep. Good night."
Who said: "Don't talk like that, Dill. It's not becoming to a child. It's - cynical."
Who said: "Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he's not going till the truth's told... And you know what the truth is."
Atticus here points out the flaws in the racist logic that goes "Tom is black, black is bad, therefore Tom is bad", and tries to transform this logic into "Tom is a man, some men are bad, some men are good, look at Tom and decide which group he falls into". Convicting Tom because he is black, Atticus argues, would be a silly as convicting him because he is a human being.
Explain this quote: "You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women - black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire."
Atticus believes that if he were not to do the right thing, he could not be a parent to his children. In most ways this construes Atticus being a role model, but in this case Atticus wants to keep himself and Jem from being hypocrites, and hold on to his morals which guide him through his everyday life, however inapplicable they are now. (The problem with his logic is that by following his moral sense and telling the "truth", he would be hurting Boo Radley, putting into the spotlight a man who just saved his children. This is even worse than hypocrisy, and the only sin Atticus believes in. This is why Heck Tate protects Boo Radley instead of reporting the crime.)
Explain this quote: "Heck," Atticus's back was turned. "If this thing's hushed up it'll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I've tried to raise him. Sometimes I think I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him... if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn't meet his eye, and the day I can't do that I'll know I've lost him. I don't want to lose him and Scout, because they're all I've got."
Who says: "I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did, but maybe you'll say it's my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what'd happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin' my wife'd be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin', Mr. Finch, taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight - to me, that's a sin. It's a sin and I'm not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man, it'd be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch."
Who said: "One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough."
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