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Miss Maudie uses her intelligence to give Scout wise advice. Scout learns many life lessons and matures using Miss Maudie’s insightful words. One evening, as Scout and Miss Maudie are sitting on her front porch, Miss Maudie teaches Scout an important lesson: “‘â€¦sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of–oh, of your father'” (46). Miss Maudie shows Scout that [â€¦]. Another important life lesson Miss Maudie teaches Scout is after the shooting of old Tim Johnson. While the children are glum that Atticus can’t do anything, he is revealed to be the deadest shot in town. However, they also learn of Atticus putting his gun down:
“Maybe I can tell you,” said Miss Maudie. “If your father’s anything, he’s civilized in his heart. Marksmanship’s a gift of God, a talent–oh, you have to practice to make it perfect, but shootin’s different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot till he had to, and he had to today.”
“Looks like he’d be proud of it,” I said.
“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents,” said Miss Maudie. (98)
Miss Maudie helps Scout sees why Atticus put his gun down. She shows Scout that Atticus saw he had an unfair advantage over other living things. Scout learns that Atticus didn’t take pride being the deadest shot in Maycomb and instead put his gun down because having an unfair advantage wasn’t really anything to be proud about. And she also implies that Scout should be humble, a good trait of character in life. Miss Maudie is a reference for Scout as she helps her understand major lessons. After the children receive their air guns, they are excited to go out and shoot. Atticus tells them to shoot all the blue jays they want, but never mockingbirds. Confused, Scout goes to Miss Maudie in which she finds her answer: “‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird'” (90). While Miss Maudie is saying it is a sin to kill mockingbirds, she is really referring to the big picture. Miss Maudie is comparing mockingbirds to weaker people of the society who can’t help but be abused. While they benefit us in so many ways, all we do is harass them. This is a key theme and idea in the book and also a very important lesson for Scout. Through intuitive advice, Miss Maudie helps Scout become a mature, wise child.
In addition to being the intelligent woman she is, Miss Maudie is also just. Miss Maudie treats people the same way no matter what their circumstances are. During the summertime, while Jem and Dill are busy scheming over plans to get Boo to come out, Scout becomes closer to Miss Maudie. One evening, Scout asks Miss Maudie about Arthur “Boo” Radley and tells her about the rumors, which causes Miss Maudie to say: “‘I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how'” (45-46). This example shows that Miss Maudie is not prejudiced against other people. Miss Maudie doesn’t judge Arthur based on rumors and other information. Instead, she sees Arthur for who he really is, based on true experiences and facts. She sees Arthur as a nice boy while everyone else sees him as a delinquent all because she based her opinions on the truth, bringing out the good in people that the lies cover. But Miss Maudie’s righteousness doesn’t stop with the white people. Miss Maudie also believes in justice for people at the bottom of the hierarchy in Maycomb, the African Americans. During the night of the trial, Miss Maudie sits down on her front porch and waits for the Finches to come home. While she waits, she begins to have thoughts, which she tells to Jem the next morning: “‘as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step–it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step”‘ (216). Miss Maudie knows that Atticus won’t win because of the racism still around from years of traditions. However, she also sees the case would have been an easy decision with an inexperienced lawyer, except that Atticus held the jury out for so long, it was apparent they were wavering in their decisions. While they still voted Tom guilty, Miss Maudie sees that that momentary indecision is another step, no matter how small, towards justice and freedom for all people. She associates herself with the people that want to make a step towards justice by saying “we’re” and also praising Atticus for helping make that step. And even though there are racism and injustice, there are people like Miss Maudie to spread fairness throughout the town, one baby-step at a time.
Besides being impartial in society, Miss Maudie also plays a feminine role in Scout’s life. Miss Maudie becomes a motherly figure in Scout’s life and teaches her the key skills of being a woman. As the story unfolds, we get to know Miss Maudie: “She made the best cakes in the neighborhoodâ€¦ every time she baked she made a big cake and three little ones, and she would call across the street: “Jem Finch, Scout Finch, Charles Baker Harris, come here!” Our promptness was always rewarded” (43). This example shows Miss Maudie’s motherly nature. Miss Maudie shows that she cares about the children in a feminine way by baking cakes for them and that she also participates in ladylike arts such as cooking. She is also very generous when she bakes a cake for each child. As the story progresses, Miss Maudie becomes an even larger motherly figure in Scout’s life. During one of Aunty Alexandra’s Missionary Society meetings, Scout becomes uncomfortable with all of the questions. Thankfully, Miss Maudie was there to mollify her: “Miss Maudie’s hand closed tightly on mine, and I said nothing. Its warmth was enough” (216). Scout becomes even closer to Miss Maudie as Miss Maudie offers her comfort and warmth. While Miss Maudie is a widow and seems to have no children, Scout is motherless. The two neighbors have a big void in their life are beginning to develop an unconditional bond to fill that void. And even though Miss Maudie seems to have a soft spot for Scout, she can also be strong and become a proper woman in society when the time comes. As the Missionary Society progresses, Atticus enters and tell Aunt Alexandra that Tom Robinson was killed. After Atticus leaves, Aunt Alexandra anxiously reveals all of her worries while Miss Maudie takes charge of the situation:
“Stop that shaking,” commanded Miss Maudie, and I stopped. “Get up, Alexandra, we’ve left ’em long enough.”
Aunt Alexandra rose and smoothed the various whalebone ridges along her hips. She took her handkerchief from her belt and wiped her nose. She patted her hair and said, “Do I show it?”
“Not a sign,” said Miss Maudie. “Are you together again, Jean Louise?”
“Then let’s join the ladies,” she said grimly.
“Calpurnia’s on an errand for a few minutes, Grace,” said Miss Maudie. “Let me pass you some more of those dewberry tarts. ‘dyou hear what that cousin of mine did the other day, the one who likes to go fishing?…”
Miss Maudie takes the place of Aunt Alexandra when she is in distress. While the Scout and Alexandra are shocked by the news, Miss Maudie controls her emotions and becomes regal and courteous. She shows that she can be a part of the society and become a strong proper woman when the time comes. Miss Maudie becomes a female role model to Scout during this example. Being proper is a key trait of women in society. So she teaches Scout how to be calm in a time of grief and also how to be regal and proper. While Miss Maudie is comforting and loving to Scout, she can also become a part of society and show Scout how to be a proper woman.
As Miss Maudie becomes a motherly figure and feminine role model in Scout’s life, she is also wise and just, helping Scout mature and understand society. As Scout becomes more and more excluded from the activities of the boys, she is eventually drawn to Miss Maudie. Scout learns many lessons of life such as becoming a proper woman or why not to kill mockingbirds, and also develops a bond with Miss Maudie. Because Scout is motherless and Miss Maudie seems to have no children, they have a big void in their lives and become even closer. Even though Miss Maudie is not Scout’s mother, she is a close substitute as she is caring, comforting, and proper. Scout only realizes this after she is excluded from the Jem and Dill and becomes closer to Scout. She realizes the mother that she has been missing in her life is really right across the street and she sees this after she is excluded. As in many other stories, the best things in life are closer than you think. You would be surprised to see the things around and all you needed to do was open your eyes.
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