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The fire scene also shows how the town functions when one of their own, a white woman, needs help. All of the men in the town show up to cart out Miss Maudie's furniture. We also see how small and poor the town is for one reason the fire consumes the house is that the old fire truck "killed by the cold, was being pushed from town by a crowd of men." And then when it finally reaches its destination, "the hose burst an water shot up, tinkling down the pavement." The (white) people in this town can be loving and they do form a real community in spite of their differences, yet they are ill prepared for any real tragedy, which presages the tragedy they will face when Tom is falsely accused of rape. Fire consumes them as racism consumes them, hurting different people in different ways.
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