After the fire is over, how does Miss Maudie feel about the destruction of her house? What does this tell you about her values ?

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anthonda49's profile pic

anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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When her house is destroyed, Miss Maudie does not mourn over her loss. The things she lost were just possessions which could be replaced. She was glad no one was hurt and that the fire did not spread. She was a pragmatic character who knew the value of life over the value of possessions. Life continued, and it was a blessing. The most important thing to her was the outpouring of care and help offered by her neighbors even to Boo Radley wrapping a blanket around a cold child at the scene.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In chapter eight, Miss Maudie's house burns down and the whole neighborhood goes out in the middle of the night to see if they can help her with anything and the children witness it. Jem and Scout love Miss Maudie and worry about her well-being and how she will recover from such a devastating loss. When the children ask her about it, though--just like the good-natured person that she is--she doesn't let the children worry about her. She gives them the most positive response she has:

"Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard. Just think, I'll have more room for my azaleas now!" (73).

Scout is surprised at Miss Maudie's answer and asks why she's not grieving. Maudie calls her house an old cow barn and thought she should have set fire to it before this happened. She continues to tell Scout not to worry because she'll build a small house, take on some roomers, and she'll have "the finest yard in Alabama" (73).

Miss Maudie values looking on the bright side of things. She is always the one who identifies the positive in every situation and she's not naive, either. She can critically analyze a situation and diagnose the truth in it; but, she won't let that keep her away from seeing the best possibilities in a difficult situation. She also thinks about other people's feelings as seen how she calms the children's concerns with her upbeat attitude. The children are lucky to have such a good role model in their neighborhood to learn good values from.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Miss Maudie does not seem to mind the loss of her house very much, if at all.She  does not bother over-much about material possessions. What really matters to her is that no-one was hurt or killed in the fire.  This shows that she is a morally upstanding person who values the truly important things in life. She is one of the relatively few truly decent, humane and enlightened characters in the novel. 

Miss Maudie's attitude to her house shows how unconventional she is by the standards of Maycomb society. Earlier it is stated plainly that 'Miss Maudie hated her house; time spent indoors was time wasted' (chapter 5). She prefers to spend time working diligently in her garden, dressed in men's overalls. She actually welcomes the prospect of having a smaller house where there will be more space for her treasured flowers.

Miss Maudie's preferred environment and choice of clothes shows that in many ways she is very far from the usual type of genteel lady in Maycomb, who generally like to dress in finery and to attend to housekeeping matters. Yet Miss Maudie does not repudiate the image of the traditional lady entirely. For instance, she still attends missionary teas, a staple of social life for the ladies of Maycomb. She still acts in the dignified manner of a lady when it really matters. It is just that she places less emphasis on outward appearances than other Maycomb ladies, is much more honest and direct, and the traditional feminine occupation of housekeeping seems to bore her. We should remember too, that she lives alone; she is a widow with no family to cater for.


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