Gender Roles In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

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Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, is set in the 1960’s, a time when men and women had specific and restrictive roles in society. Men were the ones to work and earn money for their families and women were expected to a caring and obedient homemakers. In many ways, those gender stereotypes are still very present today. The contrasting opinions of Atticus Finch and Aunt Alexandra provide the reader with the different views on how men and women should be raised, which in turn, affects the readers thoughts and opinions on the gender expectations and roles that are present in today’s society. In the novel, Lee uses Scout to demonstrate how the expectations of society are pushed onto girls at a young age. One of the characters who forces these expectations onto Scout is Aunt Alexandra. Often times she ridicules Atticus for allowing Scout to wear breeches and be “unladylike.” During the Christmas party at Finch’s landing, Scout and Alexandra have a conversation about what is proper to wear. “I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, [Alexandra] said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants” (Lee 67). Aunt Alexandra expects Scout to fit into the role of a woman, even at such a young age. Another example of the harsh standards placed on Scout is shown when Alexandra is having tea with her friends in chapter 24. Miss Stephanie says, “well, you won’t get very far until you start wearing dresses more often”

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