What does Miss Maudie mean: "But sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of oh, of your father"?Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miss Maudie's remark to the children in Chapter 5 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird refers to the fundamentalists-the "foot-washers," who drive past her place castigating her for her abundant flowers.  According to Miss Maudie, the foot-washers thought that she spent too much time outdoors and not enough inside the house reading the Bible.

When Scout remarks that Miss Maudie is the "best lady" she knows, and wonders why Mr. Arthur does not come outside, too, if he were "hankerin' after heaven," Miss Maudie interjects that Scout is too young to understand.  But, some people take things to extremes, thus making something intended as good into evil.  By taking the Bible literally people misuse scripture and sometimes make it fit their own twisted intentions.  This perversion of the words of the Bible is worse than whisky in Atticus's possession--it does more harm.  For, they take the word of God and make it serve their purposes; for example, the "foot-washers" think that women are a sin by definition, Miss Maudie says.  Taking the Bible literally, these people see all women as Eves and other people as threats, possibly.  Arthur Radley is kept inside the house because Nathan Radley, Arthur's guardian and brother, does not allow him to go outdoors.

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