Uncle Jack treats himself differently both physically and mentally from the bulk of Maycomb. Uncle Jack spends his days reading Victorian literature, which keeps him wrapped in his own bubble instead of immersed in Maycomb gossip. He also eats salads and other healthful foods instead of the heavy, traditional Southern fare, suggesting that he is more concerned about certain aspects of physical fitness than most people in town.
Uncle Jack doesn’t agree with the activities of the Maycomb County Citizens’ Council, but he has a much more diplomatic, measured response than Jean Louise does. Jean Louise reacts entirely through her emotions. When she sees Atticus and Henry at the meeting, her world appears to come crashing down around her. Jean Louise immediately feels deeply angry and frustrated at Atticus and Henry for what she perceives as deep betrayal. But Uncle Jack is far more practical and logical about the whole situation. To Uncle Jack’s eyes, Atticus and Henry aren’t racists, but pragmatists. Since they both have to get along with men in town, Atticus and Henry have to swallow their pride and show up at meetings and functions that they might not love for the sake of the community.
To Uncle Jack, Atticus’s attendance at the meeting reflects not racism but a desire to preserve the culture of the South in the face of meddlesome outsiders reaching in to change their practices. Atticus believes in the law, and he believes in states’ rights. Uncle Jack points out that just because Atticus went to the meeting, that doesn’t make him a racist or a hypocrite. Actually, attending the meeting makes him a person who wants to get along with and understand the leanings of the whole community. Uncle Jack’s explanation for Atticus’s behavior takes the rationalization of “Know thy enemy.” In other words, Atticus thinks that it’s better to understand how everyone around him thinks and feels and to try and compromise with their belief system, rather than lashing out all the time in violent protest. Even if Atticus doesn’t agree, it’s better to know what everybody else is thinking about and where they are than to be left in the dark.
Jean Louise isn’t convinced. To her, if Atticus really had the strong convictions that he’d taught her to have, he wouldn’t be caught dead at one of these racist gatherings. In Jean Louise’s perspective, Atticus’s presence at this meeting still represents the betrayal of everything he had taught her to believe. Although Jean Louise listens to Uncle Jack, she doesn’t mull his advice over and draw a conclusion from it. Instead, she mulishly stays in her own belief system, stubbornly insisting that Atticus has betrayed her, rather than thinking about any other reasons why Atticus might have acted in the way that he did.