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What does Miss Maudie mean when she says, "Atticus, you are a devil from hell" in...

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erudite | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted February 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM via web

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What does Miss Maudie mean when she says, "Atticus, you are a devil from hell" in Chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM (Answer #1)

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This is actually one of the more risque scenes in the very proper relationship between the widowed neighbors Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie Atkinson. Many readers must have wondered if the two old friends had ever considered getting together matrimonially since Maudie would have been a great mother for Scout and Jem. Maudie and Atticus's brother, Jack, have a joking relationship about marriage, but it only consists of Jack "trying to get Miss Maudie's goat," and Maudie responding in a teasing manner. This scene also shows a rare glimpse of Atticus's humor. When he came home from dinner one day, he found Scout "crouched down" with her air rifle in her hand. When Atticus asked what she was aiming at, Scout responded,

     "Miss Maudie's rear end."

Atticus took a look at Scout's "generous target" and decided to warn her.

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

It was simply a joking response--and for Maudie, a somewhat off-color one--to an old friend whose tomboy daughter dared to take aim at Miss Maudie's inviting derriere.

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