To Kill a Mockingbird: Miss Maudie

Brief essay on Miss Maudie and her part in To Kill a Mockinbird by Harper Lee.

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22/01/2011
To Kill a Mockingbird- Miss Maudie
Miss Maudie is both a typical resident of Maycomb and a slightly eccentric one with different opinions to and
fewer prejudices than the majority of the neighbourhood. The first impression Scout gives of Miss Maudie is
her kindness: `a relatively benign presence' and throughout Miss Maudie's relationship with Scout this aspect
of her character remains the basis of her actions. Before Scout's exclusion from Jem and Dill's games, Scout
knows little about Miss Maudie, suggesting that she, although being far from mysterious, keeps quietly to
herself and does not leave a lasting impression on the neighbourhood such as Miss Stephanie does: `she was
only another lady in the neighbourhood'. This also suggests that she is not so different as to not fit in to
society. Miss Maudie is of the opinion that `time spent indoors was time wasted' which suggests that she
enjoys the presence of nature and, as she `hated her house', must really enjoy being in her garden. Scout
describes Miss Maudie as `a chameleon lady' which suggests that she has coped well with the loss of her
husband and is easily able to maintain the house and garden's condition as well as fitting into the traditional
category of being a well respected and patiently relaxed woman in the evenings.
Miss Maudie loved `everything that grew in God's earth', suggesting that she was religious, and later on she
reveals that she is `''a Baptist'''. Scout narrates that Miss Maudie loved `even the weeds', showing that she
was compassionate and didn't follow common prejudices. However, her tolerance was not limitless as she
despised nut-grass: `one sprig of nut-grass can ruin a whole yard'. This suggests that she is intolerant of
things that limit the flourishing of other things.
Miss Maudie's `speech was crisp', implying that she was well educated and the fact that `she called [Jem,
Scout and Dill] by all [their] names' shows that she is decorous and strives to maintain standards. However,
although she may have appeared to be slightly different to the other locals, `she made the best cakes in the
neighbourhood' which was a more traditional pursuit for women. Her unique relationship with Scout, Jem and
Dill is shown through this talent as each time she made a cake, `she made a big cake and three little ones',
showing her particular friendship with the three protagonists as there were many other children around
Maycomb but she only made three little cakes.
The fact that `Miss Maudie and [Scout] would sit silently on her porch' shows their mutual understanding and
friendship as there was little need for speech. When Scout asked Miss Maudie about Boo, her response was
short, corrective and blunt: `His name's Arthur and he's alive.' She then quickly changed the subject: `Do you
smell my mimosa?' Miss Maudie is logical and not prone to gossip: `I haven't seen him carried out yet' and she
has always been part of the long-standing community: `Miss Maudie had known Uncle Jack Finch, Atticus's
brother, since they were children.' It is revealed that Miss Maudie had a sense of humour: `[Scout:] `'Don't
you all believe in foot-washing?'' [Miss Maudie:] `'We do. At home in the bathtub'.
Scout comments that Miss Maudie `had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was
not at all interested in our private lives'. This shows Miss Maudie's integrity and Scout's trust in her. Miss
Maudie was not part of the common prejudice about the Radleys: `'' [Arthur/Boo] always spoke nicely to
me.''' and had respect for Atticus: `''Atticus Finch is the same in his house as the is on the public streets.'''
Overall, Miss Maudie is undoubtedly part of the Maycomb community, reflecting the peaceful tradition of the
neighbourhood, but does not follow the common prejudices and gossip associated with this role in society,
instead representing integrity and calm logic as well as an ability to express her thoughts shortly and
rationally.

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