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Why doesn't Atticus help carry out Maudie's furniture in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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rajdarshani | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted May 17, 2011 at 5:29 PM via web

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Why doesn't Atticus help carry out Maudie's furniture in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:29 AM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird we find ourselves during a chaotic time in the story: The weather is inconsistent, and people are demonstrating signs of superstition as to why so many strange things are going on. Among the strange things that happen is the burning of Ms. Maudie's house.  Ms. Maudie is a resident of Maycomb who leaves her stove burning overnight in order to protect her plants and keep them warm during a long, cold, winter.

However, during the recovery of Ms. Maudie's possessions Atticus Finch DID help carry on the furniture. From the very beginning of the novel we encounter over and over that Atticus Finch is somewhat like the last gentleman standing. Even questioning whether Atticus would help someone in need seems sacrilegious. Therefore, the answer to your question is that, on the contrary, Atticus did help Ms. Maudie precisely because he knew that those were her only possessions, and because Atticus is a man given to help those who need it the most.

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:50 AM (Answer #2)

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Atticus does carry out one piece of Maudie's furniture: her  favorite oak rocking chair.  Because the fire is fully involved, there no time to carry out very much, and only the prized possessions are removed from the home.

Atticus also may have to carry out furniture from his own home depending on the wind's direction and the ability of the fire department to control the blaze. He comforts Maudie rather than return to his own home to care for his possessions.  By comforting Maudie, he is able to conserve his strength in the event the winds shift and he has to carry furniture from his own home

Atticus can be counted on to do the right thing with a minimum of attention drawn to himself or his things.


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