To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 24 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Ladies in bunches always filled me with vague apprehension and a firm desire to be elsewhere, but this feeling was what Aunt Alexandra called being "spoiled."
The ladies were cool in fragile pastel prints: most of them were heavily powdered but unrouged; the only lipstick in the room was Tangee Natural. Cutex Natural sparkled on their fingernails, but some of the younger ladies wore Rose. They smelled heavenly. I sat quietly, having conquered my hands by tightly gripping the arms of the chair, and waited for someone to speak to me. (24.13-14)
For being so fearful of ladies, Scout sure knows a lot about them, down to the brands of makeup they wear. (Or maybe that's the only kind available in Maycomb? We're guessing there's no nearby Sephora.) The level of detail in her description suggests that maybe Scout's just as fascinated as she is scared.
I was more at home in my father's world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you; even Jem was not highly critical unless you said something stupid. Ladies seemed to live in faint horror of men, seemed unwilling to approve wholeheartedly of them. But I liked them. There was something about them, no matter how much they cussed and drank and gambled and chewed; no matter how undelectable they were, there was something about them that I instinctively liked... they weren't—
"Hypocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites," Mrs. Merriweather was saying. (24.54-55)
Like magic, Mrs. Merriweather finishes Scout's unspoken thought. At this point Scout feels like she understands men and their rules, and that she can trust them to behave in a certain way. The idea of being "at home" in the male world is a little weird, as if womanhood is an undiscovered country that Scout has to discover and map in order to make it her own. (Also, we think Jem is learning the same lesson—men doesn't always operate by the visible rules, either.)
Aunt Alexandra looked across the room at me and smiled. She looked at a tray of cookies on the table and nodded at them. I carefully picked up the tray and watched myself walk to Mrs. Merriweather. With my best company manners, I asked her if she would have some. After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I. (24.93)
Hm, maybe being a lady isn't so bad after all. On the one hand, acting like everything is fine while Tom has just died may seem hypocritical. On the other, mad props to Aunt Alexandra for keeping private family business private.