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Why Scout Has To Be A Lady, Miss Maudie Can’t Be On The Jury, And Maycomb Is Run By Men

1311 words - 6 pages

“Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra's vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father's lonely life” (Harper Lee 108). Scout’s Aunt Alexandra comes to live with her the summer Scout is eight, in order to provide a female influence for her. Scout is opposed to many of Aunt Alexandra’s views on how she should behave, and doesn’t want to become a lady. As Scout learns about her expected role in society, she also learns about other woman’s roles, and how women aren’t allowed to do many of the things that men do. Miss Maudie, one of Scout’s role models, isn’t allowed to be on the jury because of her sex. Scout is appaled when she learns this, just as she is when she discovers the many other injustices of the world she lives in. Maycomb is a small, sleepy town in the 1930’s, with very traditional ideas and values. Sexism effects Scout’s future, the women of Maycomb, and how the town is run.
Sexism greatly affects Scout's future in To Kill A Mockingbird. Jem frequently tells her that she "acts more like a girl every day," and means this as an insult. Both Scout and Jem want Scout to act more like a traditional boy in their town, and any sign of fear, vulnerability, or a supposedly feminine trait is looked down upon. Scout is expected to grow up, become a lady, marry, and start a family. She should wear dresses, not overalls. She should learn to cook and clean. If she does get a full education, she is viewed as smart as a man who graduated elementary school. If she gets a job, it won’t be a lawyer, like her father, or a doctor. She might become a teacher, a factory worker (although maybe not in Maycomb), or another low paying profession. She will get paid half as much as a man with the same job, and then will return home and have to cook dinner, clean her house, and make sure her husband and children are happy. Most likely, she won’t even have a job - it won’t be seen as proper. On page 307, Stephanie Crawford, the town gossip, calls across the table to Scout at a missionary circle meeting, “Whatcha going to be when you grow up, Jean Louise? A lawyer?” (Lee). Of course she’s joking. No one in Maycomb would even give a second thought to the idea of a woman in a position of power.
After Tom Robinson’s trial, Jem is confused. He doesn’t understand why Robinson was found guilty after his father proved his innocence. Atticus explains to Jem how the court works. They discuss reasonable doubt, circumstantial evidence, and eyewitnesses, and then land on the subject of juries. Jem believes that the jury made a mistake in Robinson’s conviction. “’Atticus,’ he said, ‘why don’t people like us and Miss Maudie ever sit...

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