To many, becoming a lady is something expected of a growing girl. It’s expected that you become well-mannered, independent, sophisticated, “normal”, and respectful. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s main character, Scout Finch, refuses to become a lady. She chooses to play with boys rather than playing with other girls her age, prefers overalls to a dress, and picks a fight opposed to working it out in a proper fashion. Scout’s “boyish” traits bring her attention from the women of Maycomb. Throughout the book, three women, Calpurnia - her house cook, Mrs. Dubose – her unfavorable neighbor, and Aunt Alexandra – Atticus’ sister all influence Scout on what it is to be a lady through their actions and views on doing what is expected. 

When Scout was two, her mother passed away leaving her cook, Calpurnia, as her mother figure.  As a growing girl, a mother is vital. Mothers are there to help you along the way; to help you succeed and to set the good example so that you can learn from them.  Calpurnia made the most of this position and taught Scout how to be well mannered and disciplined. When one of the Cunningham boys came over for dinner, Scout was being very rude and making Walter Cunningham feel ashamed because of the great amount of syrup he was pouring on his food. When Calpurnia saw her behavior, she asked scout to come and speak to her. Calpurnia was fuming and explained to Scout that not everyone eats like them, but it doesn’t give her the right to challenge him because he was their company. Scout says that they’re not company because he’s one of the Cunninghams but Calpurnia sternly cuts her off and says “…don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ comp’ny…You folks might be better’n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ‘em…”. (Pg. 32&33). From Calpurnia, Scout has been able to grasp right from wrong and that even though she may be better than others, in reality she’s just the same and even though they’re less wealthy doesn’t mean they cant get equal respect. Calpurnia’s ideal woman for Scout would be someone who is respectful, modest, and firm. Someone who has admiration for everyone including people who are less fortunate or less educated. 

Scout would learn from Mrs. Dubose that being a lady is being courageous. To stand up for what you think is right even if people try to bring you down. 

Whenever Scout and Jem walked by Mrs. Dubose’s house, they would greet her and she would always find a way to discriminate against them because of Atticus’ decision to take the Tom Robinson case. She would say things like “…what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising? I’ll tell you! Your fathers no better than the niggers and trash he works for!”(Pg. 135). She didn’t care about what other citizens of Maycomb County thought about her, she just made sure that people saw her point of view; to put others in her shoes.   

It’s easy for things like what Mrs. Dubose said to Scout to get to your head and make you afraid and upset. But Mrs. Dubose was a very good example of courage, determination, and bravery. She taught Scout the valuable lesson of standing up for what you believe in and not letting anyone bring you down, no matter what they think of you. 

As tensions grew in Maycomb County because of the Tom Robinson case, Atticus’ concerned sister, Alexandra, saw that it was time that Scout needed a “woman’s influence”.  She wanted Scout to grow into a lady such as her. 

Aunt Alexandra is an old-fashioned and tradition-praising mother. She holds an arrogant attitude towards most of Maycomb citizens, especially towards blacks and people such as the Cunninghams and the Ewells. At first, she rejects everything Scout does, including the way Scout talks and behaves. For ex. Scout would often come back from playing in the dirt and Aunt Alexandra would give her a look that signified her dissatisfactions. Slowly but surely, Aunt Alexandra loosens up and permits Scout to participate in her tea parties and missionary circle discussions. Aunt Alexandra comes to accept Scout’s “boyish” traits when she hands Scout her overalls instead of aggravating her about a dress. One day, Scout walks into the living room and see’s Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle discussing the town’s gossip. Aunt Alexandra invites Scout to join the circle and Scout accepts her invitation realizing that this was one of Alexandra’s ways of teaching her how to be a lady; to surround her with other women. Bringing more women into Scout’s presence would give her a new perspective on how she should act when everyone around her was judgmental of Scout and her “ways”. Many of the women in the missionary circle thought that Scout’s tomboy quality was peculiar. Since Scout knew that she would be frowned upon for wearing her typical overalls, she decided to wear a dress. “You’re mighty dressed up, Jean Louise,” said Miss Maudie noticing Scouts non-likely choice of clothing. “Where are your britches today?” Scout replies “Under my dress.”(pg. 307) The ladies at the circle laughed at her mistake. When Aunt Alexandra brought more women into the house, it didn’t always have a posotive influence on Scout’s growth. The women would pressure and intimidate Scout on becoming a lady. It made Scout feel like she couldn’t reach Aunt Alexandra’s expectations for her when she and other women of Maycomb would criticize her characteristics. As Aunt Alexandra brought both posotive and negative influences on Scout, she taught Scout how to determine right from wrong, how to be an independent little lady, and to think for herself.  

Calpurnia, Mrs. Dubose, and Aunt Alexandra all taught Scout how and what it is to be a lady. They taught her discipline through the way they dealt with their disagreements. They taught her how to be well-mannered by showing her how to respect the people around her. They taught her how to keep her head high about her views and opinions and not let anyone bring you down, even when they may disagree. For Scout, doing what is expected for others was difficult but those three women helped her and shaped her on the way. Growing into a lady, being respectful, mature, and sovereign may not come easily to everyone, but they all benefit into doing what is expected of you and your future.