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Miss Maudie Atkinson lives across the street from the Finch house in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Maudie is a widow: The daughter of Dr. Frank Buford, Maudie was married to a man named Atkinson, but grew up with Atticus' brother, Jack. She inherited her love of plants and gardening from her father, and she spends as much time outdoors as possible. She wore "coveralls" and a straw hat during the day, but
... after her five o'clock bath she would appear on the porch and reign over the street in magisterial beauty.
She called the children by their full names--"Jem Finch, Scout Finch, Dill Harris"-- and "her speech was crisp for a Maycomb Country inhabitant." Maudie didn't talk down to the kids as many adults do, and Scout spends many evenings talking with her on her porch. Maudie is the best baker in the area and often baked for the children, closely guarding the secret recipe of her Lane Cake from Miss Stephanie. Scout admires the "gold prongs clipped to her eyeteeth." Maudie is Scout's closest adult friend, in part because she
... had never told on us, never played cat-and-mouse with us... She was our friend.
Maudie is intensely loyal to Atticus and his children, supporting him during the trial of Tom Robinson and, more importantly, against a personal attack by Mrs. Merriweather at the missionary circle tea. It is Maudie who explains to Scout the wisdom of Atticus' admonishment that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." She also reminds them after the trial that Atticus is a special man, meant to "do our unpleasant jobs for us."
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