Children’s Life in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

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The New York Times states, that “Scores of motherless children are overlooked in America every day.” In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, the two children, Scout and Jem Finch, have been motherless since Scout was 2, and Jem was 6. Although they do not have a mother, they have three mother figures. One is Calpurnia, their maid, another is Miss Maudie their neighbor, and the third is their Aunt Alexandra. Even though these children are not raised by their biological mother, these three caring women provide them with a nurturing environment, so that the Finch children are not overlooked.

Calpurnia is the Finch family’s African American housekeeper. She acts as a mother figure to Scout and Jem, and raises them after their mother’s death. She helps teach the children the lessons that Atticus, their father tries to teach them. On the first day of School, Scout brings Walter Cunningham home for lunch. Walter pours maple syrup on his food, and Scout embarrasses him for that. Calpurnia reprimands Scout and tells her that guests should be treated properly. This corresponds with the lesson Scout and Jem learn about treating everyone with respect. Calpurnia has a warm side as well. The same day she scolded her, Calpurnia made Scout her favorite food. She is the first black woman that the children communicated with, and that influences their ideas on race and equality. The combination of discipline and affection makes Calpurnia the ultimate female role model for the Finch children.

Miss Maudie Atkinson is another important mother figure to the Finch children. She reinforces Atticus’s beliefs, and agrees with him that “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Scout confides in Miss Maudie when she is feeling left out from the boys, and Miss Maudie never criticizes her for being a tomboy. Scout does not have a mother, but she is blessed to have Miss Maudie in her life to act as a guide and a friend.

Alexandra Finch Hancock is Scout and Jem’s aunt. She is quite different from Atticus her brother. Alexandra became part of Maycomb’s “high society”, and judges everyone and categorizes them. Despite her preconceived notions, Aunt Alexandra loves her family. Even though she does not agree that Atticus should be the defending attorney for Tom Robinson (a black man),she is very disturbed by the insults he recieves by the townspeople of Maycomb. This proves even though Alexandra does not see eye to eye with her brother, she loves her family nonetheless. Aunt Alexandra doesn’t believe Scout should continue in her “tom-boyish ways”. Aunt Alexandra doesn’t understand that to change a child’s manner, you must bring them up with love instead of toughness. Because of the way Alexandra treats Scout, they do not develop a strong bond. Therefore they are not close, and it is difficult for them to live with each other. Although Aunt Alexandra has a different belief system, the children understand that she loves them and has their best interests at heart.

It is unfortunate that Scout and Jem Finch were not brought up by their mother, but they are blessed to have three strong mother figures in their life. Each women contributed to the children’s growth and development in their own unique way. The Finch children were definitely not overlooked. There is a saying that says “it takes a village to raise a child”, Scout and Jem needed a few people to help raise them to fill the role of their mother.

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Children's Life in "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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