Bob Jones Honors English 9

A place for students to express themselves


The ladies Missionary Society in Maycomb, led by Mrs. Grace Merriweather, seem to have a great deal of concern for the Mrunas (an implied-to-be African tribe); but they have no sympathy or empathy for the African-Americans who live in their community. Mrs. Gates, the school teacher, condemns Hitler for persecuting the Jews, but on the night of Tom’s trial, Scout hears her say, “it’s time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us.”  How does Scout come to grips with this hypocrisy? Does she? How can you connect this idea to existing situations, or past situations, that we, as a country, have found ourselves in?




40 Comments so far ↓

  • JennyS3

    Scout reacts to the hypocrisy displayed by Mrs. Grace Merriweather and Mrs. Gates with confusion and wonder because she is not used to insincerity; Atticus raised her without exposing her to hypocrisy. Scout does not really come to grips with hypocrisy and is uncomfortable with it; she mentions how she is more at ease in her father’s world where men do not trap people with innocent questions to make fun of them, and men do not criticize the smallest things. In the United States, hypocrisy exists in both the past and the present. The Japanese were placed in Japanese American internment camps, similar to the German concentration camps (which we all condemned), until the end of WWII. Not long ago, the Stop Online Piracy Act, an act that would censor certain things on the Internet, was almost passed while the United States was encouraging Internet Freedom for the rest of the world. Where there are people, there is hypocrisy; where there are wealthy people, there is poverty.

    • Ms. H.

      Very interesting parallels. Good job.

    • TinaT3

      I strongly agree with you. We, as a country, choose who we feel sorry for and when we feel sorry for them. I guess that we are more likely to feel sympathy or empathy for people who are not part of our community. As with Mrs. Gates, she feels sympathy towards the Jews being tortured by Hitler yet feels nothing for Tom, a fellow that lives in the same community as her that happens to be an African-American. The Missionary Society shows concern for Africans in Africa but shows no concern whatsoever for the Africans in their community. The examples you have supplied also proves this point: It is easier to feel sympathy or empathy to those who are farther away from you than those who are closer to you. In my opinion, I do not think that we, as a whole, will ever come to terms with hypocrisy.

    • AndrewA2

      Yes hypocrisy has always existed, and most likely always will. Scouts reaction to the hypocrisy of Mrs. Grace Merriweather is with a befuddled and confused mind, she cannot come to terms that this person who says that we need to help the mrunas in Africa, and outright persecutes the African Americans in her own town.

  • CandaceN3

    In a way, Scout did not come to terms with hypocrisy. She could not quite grasp why people could talk bad about one person but do the same thing. For example, with Mrs. Gates, she asked Jem about how Mrs. Gates could talk about Hitler and, yet, find it okay that Tom Robinson is being persecuted for a crime that he did not commit. Jem became angry, but she honestly did not understand. In our country, we have been hypocrites in many situations. In the past, we have condemned other countries for treating a certain type of people cruelly or excluding them, like Germany’s Hitler. When in reality, we did something of the same sort. The Native Americans were located in Georgia, and we made them move to be able to access their land. The U.S. promised them Oklahoma as their reserve and that we would leave them alone there. The Creeks came to a treaty with the U.S. to give up some land in exchange for protection, but the U.S. did not follow through with their end of the deal, and the Creeks were unprotected. So, many times the U.S. has something to say about other countries, but there have been instances when we did something of that same variety, acting out of hypocrisy.

    • DeanA3

      I strongly agree with you Candace, many people like to think that one thing is very cruel or unjust but if something happens under different circumstances in where it is something they do not like; they will think it is the correct act. It’s like if someone unpopular says something and no one cares, but if a popular person says the same exact idea everyone wants to do it.

    • RebeccaW3

      It’s crazy to sit back and think about how hypocritical the world really is. You brought up some awesome points that I never even thought about. I agree when you say that Scout did not come to terms with hypocrisy. How can you? Hypocrisy is a crazy idea that, for people of Scout’s age, can be extremely confusing. I wish I could say that being a hypocrite is a terrible thing and people should just stop being one, but that would make me a hypocrite. It’s just so natural for people to be hypocritical. A question, how can we make them stop?

  • SarahS3

    In the novel ” The Help” by Kathrny Stockett the ‘society ladies’ do the samething as the ‘chuch ladies’ in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Both the ladies ‘help’ Africans but neglect the Afican Americans in their own town. Scout is exposed to this hypocrisy in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. She doesn’t know how to deal with it. She encounters hypocrisy again when Mrs. Gates talks about Germany and the jews. She can’t grasp it in this situation either. In WWII America did the same thing by putting Japanese-Americans in consentration camps. America was helping free the consentration camps in Europe, while putting people in consentration camps back on their home soil.

    • MelainaH1

      When I first read the prompt about hypocrisy, I also thought about the novel “The Help” because of the similar situations. I feel like the same thing also happens today. People are more willing to send a check to someone far away then go out and help those in their own community. Scout is confused by hypocrisy in her town because she hasn’t been exposed to it yet. When Scout grows up, she will probably do the same as her brother–realize why people act the way they do, even when they say they feel a different way.

  • SofiaL2

    Scout never really understands the hypocrisy exposed by Mrs. Merriweather and Mrs. Gates. She was brought up by Atticus who was “the same in his house as he is on public streets.” So she never really had to have a cope with hypocrisy and she didn’t even really know how to explain it to Atticus. She was confused why the morals she was taugh, she must obey, but Mrs. Gates didn’t have to.
    Just like Mrs. Gates and Mrs. Merriweather were acting hypocritical, the US as a whole also hasn’t been completely perfect. For example, the United States said they didn’t believe in Imperialism or colonization and such but we attacked Hawaii and overthrew their queen just to have a trading port to China.

  • GrantW2

    I think that Harper Lee chose a small child as a narrator so she can use Scout like she does in this instance. Lee uses the innocent and simple mind of a child to make this point. It really is pretty simple, why would you go to Africa to help black people but you condemn and hate the black people in your own community. I think society can be very hypocritical with bending over backwards to end hunger in some obscure African country, but they couldn’t give a care in the world for the kinds that suffer from child abuse and hunger every day in their very own country.

    • SarahA3

      I agree with Grant about the reason as to why Harper Lee chose to have a young, innocent mind be the voice of the novel. In the book Scout doesn’t understand why someone would say one thing then say another things that is completely different. For example when no one is willing to step in and Help Helen, Tom’s wife, when she is unable to find a job, but the Missionary women fret over the African Americans in other parts of the world. That’s like helpiing starving children overseas, but ignoring all the starving children here in our own community. Why we do this I don’t quite understand; maybe it’s because we know these people so we don’t really see any use of helping them. An example is when the U.S. put all Japanese in concentration camps during WWII, but yet critized Nazis for doing the same thing with Jews.

  • SeemaA3

    In the novel, hypocrisy is seen many times. The people wanted to help the Mrunas, but punish the African-Americans that live in Maycomb. People nowadays try to help other countires that they think need help in some sort while not realizing that their country needs improving. We look at Hitler with such disgrace for putting people in concentration camps and for killing Jews, but he wasn’t the only person or country to do horrible things. The U.S., for example, put Japanese people in concentration camps. It may not have been as bad as Hitler, but many countries judge other countires for their wrong doing while they have done similar things . Hypocrisy isn’t just a situation that is happening now, it’s been here in the past too. In TKAM, Scout got very confused as to how her teacher could say that Tom was guilty, but sympathized with the Jews.

  • NathanielC1

    Scout has never been exposed to this kind hypocrisy because Atticus never allowed her to experience anything like this. This is why she didnt grasp what Mrs. Gates and Mrs. Merriweather were saying. It isn’t making sense to her because they feel so much symmpathy for the peop,e that are getting mistreated in other countries but don’t feel the same way about Tom Robinson. My example is realting to Jenny’s and Candance’s. During WWII, our army was trying to free the people being enslaved by the Axis powers. In America, we were treating blacks the same way the Axis Powers were treating the Europeans.

  • AmyM1

    Scout does not fully come to terms with the idea of this going on in her community. I believe it helps her to have Jem to talk to but even he cannot fully understand what she means. Also Jem is just as confused. I agree with scout that this is wrong and that it almost seems like Mrs. Grace Merriweather is just trying to get attention. If she really was that caring and wanted to help out then she could always start out in her own community. This would not only be morally right but it may also help her to gain support from the community. As sad as it is, this goes on all the time in our community. If one pays close attention they will realize that groups are always holding “meetings” in which they are supposed to discuss how to help a group of people or help a cause. But a lot of time in our society, this is just a social scene. A place for men and women to get together. Yes, there are occasional groups that do succeed and these are a tremendous help but most others are just for show.

    • IsabelS1

      I agree with what you said about Mrs. Grace Merriweather needing to start helping in our community. I think that our society as a whole helps people in other countries which is extremely good, but we also need to help the people in our country also. We have poverty in America as well. I also agree with what you said about helping out in her community would be morally right. I think in Maycomb in the 1930′s, people wanted to have control over the blacks, but were quick to feel simpathy for others that were far away.

  • HendryckG1

    Scout’s reaction to hypocrisy is normal. I don’t think she can really come to grips with it. She hasn’t seen the world in this way because of the way her father raised her. It’s really tough to understand the mentality of a hypocrite. My cousin told me “Some things are said by politicians to get the people’s approval, but that doesn’t mean that they really believe it. Once they get their office, they do what they want!” (I must add that this was the nicest way I could put what he said on the internet!) Maybe that was the way it was in Maycomb; either that or stupidity ran dangerously rampant that deep in the south. You can’t condemn persecution against jews while you gladly persecute a black man without being intellectually depraved. The case must have been to show the other people in town that they have morals and values. That, we know, is false.

  • JacobJ3

    I feel that Scout never really understood why people acted as hypocrites. For example, she was confused with her teacher for talking bad about Hitler, but Scout heard her say that she feels Tom Robinson deserved to be locked up. We as a country have similar hypocrisy. For instance, we think that Hitler was bad for sending millions to concentration camps, but we had a similar solution to the Japanese. Also, politicians may say stuff bad about their opponents, but they really often pick small details out, usually from their opponent’s past, and make it into a big deal, but does that make them any better?

  • LukeW3

    I believe Scout’s reaction to hypocrisy is due to the way Atticus raises her. Atticus has always taught her to treat everyone fair and to always be honest. Scout can understand that the people of Maycomb are upset about the way Hitler is treating the Jews and Europeans. What she doesn’t understand is why when they turn arround they treat the African- Americans in Maycomb county just as low as Hitler would treat the Jews. This is aform of hypocrisy she has never been exposed to. Hypocrisy in America’s deep South during this time was bad and I think TKAM displayed this injustice very well through the eyes of a young white girl who can’t understand it.

  • ZachZ2

    I really liked what Grant W. said, he said that since Scout is so young and the way she was raised she can’t really enable her brain to wrap her head around the topic. If you think about it people are always wanting to go build wells in Africa and build church’s in Mexico which I am all for. But people just assume that our country is always going to be a power-house and our country will pick up eventually but I don’t think so if somebody doesn’t do something quick I think we are going to turmoil in the future. And I think this is the way scout puts it why do they want to help people in Africa but they are so mean to African Americans in Maycomb.

  • OliviaK2

    I think that in the novel Scout does not really understand them when they are hypocritical, she is just confused, because Atticus has never been a hypocrite. I have seen this hypocrisy in the ways that people try to go green and be nature friendly and conserve, when a lot of the time what are doing does not even help. And it ends up just costing more money and rarely even helping.

  • AlexJ1

    Atticus chose to shelter scout from things in the world that are wrong such as hypocrisy. Because of his way of parenting she does not understand hipocrasy and is stunned by this. It is very obvious that it is bad and she doesn’t understand why anyone would do this. In the story, it talks about how American citizens will worry about people in Africa before considering to care for fellow Americans. We still do the hypocrital act, saying that we need to stop hunger, but ignore our country and help others.

  • MaeC2

    Scout never really does come to grips with hypocrisy. Her entire life she has grown up believing that the adults in her town are good people. Atticus did not exhibit or teach the children hypocrisy, and after hearing Mrs. Gates’ comment on the night of Tom’s trial Scout’s mind became as twisted as a tornado. She cannot wrap her mind around the fact that people can feel sympathy for one group of people but degrade and hate another. It is easy to sympathize and want to help those who live oceans away and are just a distant issue. Facing the issues in your community, the people facing hypocrisy in your society, is always more challenging. Often times people will willingly provide for a starving child in Africa, but overlook the children in America who are scavenging for their next meal. In our society hypocrisy will forever be present. Our personal job is to strive not to be hypocrites ourselves and perhaps, person by person, one day hypocrisy will become a thing of the past.

  • AeriellB1

    I don’t think at the beging Scott could come to terms with these people being hypocrites. She grew up around Atticus who said what he believed in and never said one thing and turn do the oppisite. I think Scott finally learns that not everybody is exactly like Atticus and that some people will say one thing and do another. An example of a hypocrite now a day are politicans. They saty what ever they cvan to get elected into office. Once they get into office they do what ever they want not thinking about the consiquences. I know not all politicians are like this , but most are. That is what I think.

  • MaryA3

    I think Scout does comes to grips with it because she understands the things that the adults are saying. The reason she is confused is because when someone says one thing, but then does the opposite she gets confused and asks why and how can these people say this when they expressed that they are against it. This hypocrisy unfortunately is still with us all today an example is that we say that the U.S. is not racist, but we all still treat each other with caution, disgust, and sometimes one race might have the i’m-better-than-you attitude. This just proves that even though we say we don’t agree with something we might find ourselves doing just that, but our minds work in a way that tells us it’s different. In reality how much different is calling someone racist and then go out and treat someone whose different from you like dirt. This concept, I think, is what Scout saw when she heard Miss Gates. She saw that there was no difference between cutting down Hitler and then going out and being racist to someone because there is not a difference that is why she understood it was because she got it right from the start she just didn’t know what she was getting.

  • MichaelF3

    I believe that Scout had a hard time gripping hypocrisy for the first time. It is sad, but the adults of Maycomb were so prideful they could’nt see their own hypocrisy of racism. Atticus had never exposed Scout to hypocrisy because he is a man of his word. I can relate this situation to a hypocrisy in America. Poloticians always promise people what they want to hear during their campaign, and then don’t apply those promises in office.

  • LoganM1

    I think that Scout reacted by thinking about it a bit more and wondering about it. She doesn’t really know what has been going on in the world around her until she actually looks. Her father has somewhat sheltered her it seems from the outside world. Though, I do think she discovers more and more every day.

  • ChrisG1

    Scout is has the typical reaction to hypocrites. She is frustrated by it, but I don’t think she completely understands why she gets so upset, she just knows that it’s wrong. Our nation has been hypocritical many times throughout our history. One of the times was when the American government forced the Native Americans to relocate to Oklahoma. Our nation has the words “All men are created equal” in our constitution. However, we still force people out of their homes so that “more equal” people can live there.

  • ChristianB1

    Scout does the right thing a recognises the hipocrisy that she sees in her town, even thought she is confused with the topic. The way that hypocrites see the world is wrong is its own respect. This hypocrisy of how they view some people different with others can be seen in our own society. An example in modern day society of hypocrisy can be seen greatly in modern day politics when candidates falsely advertise about themselves and their campaign to get a greater deal of voters. I believe no matter what we try to do to rid of hypocrisy, it will always be in our own society.

  • SarahE2

    I find the fact that they are willing to help the Africans, who are the same race as the people at home whom they are prejudiced against, quite ironic. The fact that they plan to send food and money over seas, when there are people who are starving at home is dispicable. Also the fact that someone can complain about Hitler, and then turn around a be cruel to someone because of their color makes no sense. The people in this novel are confusing the children, who obviously know better than the adults do that prejudice is wrong. It is unfathomable to me that people are treated diffeently because of race, and I think that this fact was becoming obvious to Scout in the novel.

  • TaylorD2

    Scouts reaction to hypocricy is normal, because she was raised by her father and had never really seen much of the outside world, Until the Tom Robinson Trial came to Maycomb and she experinced it first hand. Its tough to process it because if you were raised like Scout you think everyone is equal and not treated bad. Its just not right to think that someone in another country is doing wrong when yet your people or your community are doing the same things right next to you.

  • AngelaS2

    Scout doesn’t really understand hypocrisy. She seems to recognized what it is, but she doesn’t understand why people say one thing and act different on a similar subject. Scout doesn’t really come to grips with hypocrisy other than in the meeting at her house. I think she isn’t old enough to have come in a lot of contact with it and she has lived in the same little town all her life and hasn’t seen the world. There were a lot of times that the U.S. has been hypocritical. For example, during World War II Germany was putting Jewish people into camps and we thought that was wrong. Then after Pearl Harbor we placed Japanese in camps also. The U.S. also showed hypocrisy when we were racist to black people because we believed that “All men are created equal,” but we still didn’t give them the same rights.

    • YuriK3

      I believe that Scout does not really understand hypocrisy, because she is so little at the time and has not seen much of the world for she only lived in Maycomb in her life. Also, she does not come to grips with hypocrisy until Missionary Society and Mrs. Gates shows it. Hypocrisy does and did exist in U.S. like when we were racist to black men placing them below other races

  • AmandaS3

    Scout’s reaction to what Mrs. Grace Merriweather said was confusion. I think that this is very normal for someone her age that hasn’t been around things like that. Mrs. Grace Merriweather felt sympathy of the Mrunas even though she wasn’t even helping the black community in her own town.

  • AidanC3

    I don’t think Scout ever really comes to grips with the hypocrisy, mainly because she doesn’t understand it. She is baffled that someone can say something but seemingly not mean it five minutes later.

  • Akeia W

    Scout is definitly confused when she hears this because she remembers what the teacher say about the lectuer about hitler and the things he did. This is still around for example the Trevon Martin case. Martin was a black teenager and was shot by a neighborhood watchman for no reason.

  • EvanJ3

    Scout doesn’t do anything about the hypocrisy in the novel, but she doesn’t approve of it. She doesn’t see any reason why someone could hate the Nazis for persecuting the Jews for no reason, but not hate themselves for being prejudiced against blacks, or that someone could care so much about helping people on another continent but not people in their community. Today, we as a country are very hypocritical in the same way that the ladies Missionary Society is: we will spend money setting up factories in other countries or helping other countries but not our own.

  • TannerB3

    Scout never really comes to terms with hypocrisy, but she exposed to it man ytimes in the novel. For example, when Mrs. Grace Merriweather talks to the ladies about helping the Mrunas, yet she neglects the african americans in her own community. This also happens in the U.S. during the war with Japan. We rounded up the Japanese and sent them off to concentration camps. We were no better than Hitler. Scout realizes what it means to be hypocritical and that it is wrong, but she never really understands it. She really wasn’t used to it, after all, she is only a child. Scout and Jem emulate Atticus, who was brave enough to stand up to hypocrisy by defending Tom Robinson. She was quite shocked to say the least after being exposed to it. She eventually realizes that even her schoolteacher, Mrs. Gates is a hypocrite. Mrs. Gates talks to her class about how wrong it is for Hitler to persecute the Jews, yet, at the trial, Scout overhears her talking about how the “Negroes need to be set back in their place.” There are many examples of hypocrisy in this novel and in real life.

  • JosephT2

    I think hypocrisy still goes on in the world, even though its not right. People have a different perspective on things, so everyone has their own opinion on how things should be. So offcourse hypocrisy is still going to be in the world still. I dont think Scout really understands what hypocrisity is. He hasnt seen enough things to really know what it means.

  • WillJ2

    Scout has a hard time understanding the hypocrisy displayed by those the people. Atticus did not raise her to accpet that as a norm of life. In time, I think she will learn to understand it because there will always be hyporcites. There will always be someone who will say one thing, and then do the exact opposite. The U.S. government is guilty of this. It discriminated agaisnt race while it pormoted eqauilty for all. As Jenny said earlier, it sent Japanese to camps while it was condenming Hitler for it. Hypocrisy is just an ugly aspect of life that is met at on point or another .

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