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[Calpurnia] seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. (12.8)
Until now, being a girl has been what happens when Scout fails to live up to Jem's standards of what a person should be. Watching Calpurnia, Scout realizes that being a girl actually involves having positive traits instead of lacking them.
I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life I thought of running away. Immediately. (14.24)
Those dresses may look pretty, but Scout thinks they'd just hold her in. (Fine—but do you have to wear overalls?)
I walked home with Dill and returned in time to overhear Atticus saying to Aunty, "...in favor of Southern womanhood as much as anybody, but not for preserving polite fiction at the expense of human life," a pronouncement that made me suspect they had been fussing again. (15.39)
By calling Southern womanhood a "polite fiction," Atticus asserts that it's not real—it's just an idea that people at least pretend to believe in to make life run smoother. And what makes for a particularly Southern womanhood? How is being a woman in the south different from being a woman in the north? Are there any "fictions" about being a woman that we still believe?