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How Does Aunt Alexandra Use Racism

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Words: 705 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 705|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

From the very beginning of Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," the theme of racism is woven into the fabric of Maycomb society. While many characters contribute to the perpetuation of racism, one character stands out for her overt display of racist beliefs and actions: Aunt Alexandra. This essay will explore the ways in which Aunt Alexandra uses racism as a tool to maintain social hierarchy and uphold traditional values in Maycomb. By analyzing her words and actions, it becomes evident that Aunt Alexandra's racism not only influences her relationships with others but also reflects the deeply ingrained prejudices of the time.

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Aunt Alexandra's racist beliefs can be traced back to her upbringing and social status. As a member of the Finch family, one of the most prominent families in Maycomb, she has been raised with the notion of racial superiority. Lee portrays Aunt Alexandra as a product of her environment, shaped by the racist attitudes prevalent in Southern society during the 1930s. For example, in Chapter 13, Aunt Alexandra expresses her concern about Scout's association with Walter Cunningham, a poor boy from a lower-class family. She states, "Jean Louise, there is no doubt in my mind that they're good folks. But they're not our kind of folks." This statement reveals Aunt Alexandra's belief in the existence of different classes of people based on race and socio-economic status.

As a mother figure, Aunt Alexandra plays a significant role in shaping the beliefs and values of her children and those around her. She uses racism as a means to teach her children the importance of maintaining the social order and preserving the Finch family's reputation. In Chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra insists on hosting a missionary tea for the Ladies' Missionary Circle, an event that Scout describes as "Aunt Alexandra's most successful social accomplishment." During the tea, Aunt Alexandra introduces Scout to a group of ladies, highlighting the fact that Scout is "Atticus Finch's daughter." By associating Scout's identity with her father's reputation, Aunt Alexandra reinforces the idea that the Finch family is superior to others, particularly those of different races.

Aunt Alexandra's racist beliefs also have a direct impact on Scout, the novel's protagonist. Although Scout initially resists her aunt's attempts to mold her into a proper Southern lady, Aunt Alexandra's influence gradually seeps into Scout's worldview. In Chapter 24, Scout overhears Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie discussing the injustice of Tom Robinson's trial. Aunt Alexandra remarks, "I can't say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he's my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end." This statement reveals Aunt Alexandra's conflicted feelings about the racial prejudices she holds. Scout, being a young and impressionable child, absorbs these conflicting messages, leading to a nuanced understanding of racism and its effects on society.

Another aspect of Aunt Alexandra's racism can be observed in her interactions with Calpurnia, the Finch family's African American housekeeper. Despite Calpurnia's loyalty and dedication to the Finch family, Aunt Alexandra treats her as a subordinate and reinforces racial stereotypes. In Chapter 13, Aunt Alexandra makes it clear that she believes Calpurnia should not have a significant role in raising Scout and Jem. She states, "You've got to do something about her. You've let things go on too long, Atticus, too long." This statement implies that Aunt Alexandra views Calpurnia's presence as a threat to the Finch family's social standing, further highlighting her deeply ingrained racist beliefs.

In conclusion, Aunt Alexandra's character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" serves as a vehicle for exploring the theme of racism. Her upbringing, role as a mother figure, influence on Scout, and interactions with Calpurnia all contribute to the portrayal of Aunt Alexandra as a racist character. Through her words and actions, Lee highlights the pervasive nature of racism in Maycomb society during the 1930s. By analyzing Aunt Alexandra's role in the novel, readers gain a deeper understanding of the societal forces that perpetuated racism and the challenges faced by those who sought to challenge it. "To Kill a Mockingbird" serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of confronting and dismantling racist beliefs and prejudices, both in the fictional world of Maycomb and in our own society today.

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Bibliography:

  • Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

How Does Aunt Alexandra Use Racism. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-does-aunt-alexandra-use-racism/
“How Does Aunt Alexandra Use Racism.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-does-aunt-alexandra-use-racism/
How Does Aunt Alexandra Use Racism. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-does-aunt-alexandra-use-racism/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
How Does Aunt Alexandra Use Racism [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-does-aunt-alexandra-use-racism/
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