Consider Atticus’s interactions with Miss Maudie and Mrs. Dubose. How does he treat them?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Like virtually every character in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch treats his women neighbors--Miss Maudie Atkinson and Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose--with the utmost respect. Atticus has a true friend and kindred spirit in Miss Maudie who, like Atticus, has lost her spouse and has remained unmarried. They are old friends and Atticus shows his humorous side often with his neighbor, particularly with the "morphodite snowman" and when Jem has practiced his aim on her bottom.

"Maudie, I thought I'd better warn you. You're in considerable peril."
    Miss Maudie straightened up and looked toward me. She said, "Atticus, you are a devil from hell."

He knows his children are safe with Miss Maudie, and Jem and Scout trust Maudie as a friend.

Although Mrs. Dubose curses Atticus and demeans him for defending Negroes and bringing up an "ugly," "dirty" child, he never retaliates in kind. When Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose's camellias, Atticus defends the "old lady," in part because he knows her secret: She is trying to kick a longtime morphine addiction. Her hateful demeanor is due in part to her drug-addled state, and Atticus sees her good side. He treats her kindly when she sits on her porch and when he visits her inside her home. After she dies, he tells Jem

"I wanted you to see what real courage is... It's when you know you're licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what... She was the bravest person I ever knew.

engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Like the intellectual southern gentleman that he is, Atticus treats the ladies of his neighborhood with a degree of kindness and respect that is typical of this era: Men and boys were expected to treat all women and girls with near-reverence, standing when women entered a room, offering seats to them when none were available, opening and holding doors as they entered buildings, addressing them with the formal title "ma'am," and basically showing courtesy and politeness that was above and beyond today's standards. Atticus exemplifies the expected male treatment of women in the south of the 1930s.

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