Miss Maudie Atkinson

  • The female version of Atticus.
  • Cares for Scout and Jem.
  • Witty.

Along with Atticus, Miss Maudie is the voice of reason in Maycomb. Unlike many of her neighbours, she is not quick to judge others, does not gossip about Boo Radley and hopes that even though Tom Robinson is inevitably found guilty, the words of Atticus at the trial may bring about some small future change. She is kind towards Scout and Jem and can be relied upon to offer them sensible words of advice when Atticus is not present.

The female version of Atticus

How is Miss Maudie like this?

Just like Atticus, Miss Maudie knows that Tom Robinson’s trial is a serious matter and not one to be treated lightly or as a form of entertainment. Therefore she is scornful of the many white people who go to the trial simply to ogle at Tom and who treat it as a way of passing the time in a carnival atmosphere.

Evidence

Aren’t you goin’ down to watch?asked Dill.

I am not. ‘t’s morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it’s like a Roman carnival.

Analysis

Miss Maudie is more sensitive to the fate of Tom Robinson than the people who are going to court to enjoy the spectacle of seeing a black man on trial for raping a white woman. Just like Atticus, she sees Tom as a human being who deserves respect and to be treated as an equal throughout his time in court.

Cares for Scout and Jem

How do we know this?

Miss Maudie always has time for the children and is willing to listen to what they say and engage in conversation with them. She listens to their opinions, invites them into her garden and bakes cakes for them to eat.

Evidence

Our tacit treaty with Miss Maudie was that we could play on her lawn, eat her scuppernongs if we didn’t jump on the arbour, and explore her vast back lot, terms so generous we seldom spoke to her, so careful were we to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship, but Jem and Dill drove me closer to her with their behaviour.

Analysis

Scout is outlining here how generous she feels Miss Maudie is being towards her and Jem. Although she comments that they do not like to talk to Miss Maudie too much in order to keep their relationship a friendly one, this changes as the novel develops and Scout and Jem mature. When Scout feels that Jem and Dill are playing games she does not wish to become involved with she grows even closer to Miss Maudie. At times, Miss Maudie seems like a surrogate mother to Scout as they talk together about serious issues such as the trial.

Witty

How do we know this?

Miss Maudie is never afraid to speak her mind and can be witty when she is making sure that she is making her opinion clear to others.

Evidence

His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?

Analysis

Miss Maudie says this to a lady called Mrs Merriweather during Aunt Alexandra’s missionary tea. Mrs Merriweather has been subtly criticising Atticus for being misguided in defending Tom Robinson. Mrs Merriweather feels this has caused unrest amongst the black community in Maycomb and is annoyed her black cook is apparently behaving in a sulky manner. In turn, Miss Maudie is sarcastic to Mrs Merriweather when she questions whether Atticus’ food sticks when it is being swallowed. Miss Maudie is letting Mrs Merriweather know she understands she is referring to Atticus and that she strongly disagrees with her.

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