To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee explores the issue of superficiality. Lee subtly points out the problems associated with superficiality through the actions and reactions of the characters. The issue of superficiality is most clearly shown through the town's attitudes concerning women and blacks. .
In Maycomb, Alabama, the setting of the novel, society had several expectations for women. A woman was judged primarily by her appearance and the company she kept. Females who chose to flout society's concept of a "lady" were the focus of gossip and criticism. .
Miss Mausie and Aunt Alexandra represent two completely different types of women. Miss Maudie flouts the conventions of her society. She refused to dress and behave the way her society expected. She worked in her garden when she should have been in church; she wore pants; and she did not take part in the ladies" groups, such as the Missionary Circle. Because of this, she was not considered a proper lady. Aunt Alexandra, however, dressed "appropriately," joined the right committees, and supported the town's mainstream attitudes. For these things, she was highly regarded. .
To Kill a Mockingbird clearly shows, however, that the outward appearances of these two women is misleading. Because Miss Maudie did not fit the town's definition of a lady, they refused to look beyond her outward demeanor. If they had, they would have found a real lady, as opposed the mannequins they respected. Miss Maudie was kind and compassionate. The church-goers condemned her for working with her flowers. They did not see that she was kind to Scout and Jem and not unduly critical of others, both considered to be Christian ideals. Aunt Alexandra, however, the epitome of ladylike behavior in the eyes of this society, was vicious in her criticism of those who did not fit in. Each woman was the opposite of what she projected to the town. .