To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 13 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.

As part two of To Kill a Mockingbird begins, Scout and Jem find themselves dealing with adult issues of race, justice, and etiquette. They continue to struggle with their father, Atticus', ability to find good in even the harshest of people. In this lesson, we will summarize chapter 13 and analyze Aunt Alexandra who has come to stay with the Finches.

Background Information

Scout and Jem find their summer not shaping up the way it has been in the past. With Dill not returning and their father, Atticus, away at the capitol for a few weeks, they are finding a lot of changes. They attend church with their black maid, Calpurnia, and learn more about the Tom Robinson case than they can fully process. When they return home, their Aunt Alexandra is waiting for them, which isn't a pleasant surprise.

Aunt Alexandra

Aunt Alexandra, Atticus' sister, tells Jem and Scout that she is here not just for a visit but to stay awhile. She and Atticus decided that the family needed more of a female presence in the home as the children get older, which Jem and Scout translate to her telling Atticus that his children are out of control. Neither Jem nor Scout like Aunt Alexandra. She is always on them about their manners, their clothes, and their language. She is especially hard on Scout, wanting her to be more ladylike.

Upon moving in, she makes herself right at home and is well liked and welcomed by all the neighbors. She joins many clubs which she hosts at the house, and she is considered to have the finest manners and etiquette in all of Maycomb. Jem and Scout instead find her stuffy, picky and cranky at times. Sometimes they can't figure out how she is related to their father.

Aunt Alexandra spends time trying to explain to Jem and Scout why they should be proud to be Finches. She explains to them how Maycomb came to be, and how that, because it was developed so far from any other town and transportation, the town grew because families kept marrying the same families, or actually marrying in their own families. Because of this, families are rooted deep, as are traditions and thoughts about the people in Maycomb. Aunt Alexandra wants Jem and Scout to understand their history and be proud, but they have a hard time listening to all of this from someone they don't necessarily respect.

One night after getting home, Atticus comes to talk with Jem and Scout. He stumbles on his words, but tells the children that he wants them to be proud to be Finches, that they are not just ordinary people in Maycomb. He continues to stumble while telling them 'you must try to behave like the little lady and gentleman that you are.' He encourages them to sit and talk more with Aunt Alexandra, so she can teach them how to act like proper Finches should.

When he finished, Jem and Scout are speechless. Their father does not talk to them like this ever. So stunned, Scout begins to weep, which causes a change in Atticus. He changes his tone and says, 'Don't you worry about anything...I don't want you to remember it. Forget it.' He realizes that he is forcing Aunt Alexandra's words upon his children, and he wants them to be who they are.

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