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Miss Maudie Atkinson did not view the Tom Robinson trial in To Kill a Mockingbird with the same excited curiosity that most of the townspeople did. She knew it would not be good for Tom or Atticus, and she must have understood the racial tensions that would be aroused. When Jem asked her if she was going, she said she had "no business with the court this morning." When Jem told her that it was a public trial, she said she understood that, but that was no reason that she had to go. She compared the circus-like atmosphere to that of a "Roman carnival."
" 't's morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life."
In chapter 16, Jem tells Dill about all the different people they see coming to town to watch the court proceedings for the Tom Robinson case. While the children are watching all of these people interested in the case, and taking time out of their work day to come see it, they ask Miss Maudie if she plans on going to watch the trial as well. Miss Maudie responds as follows:
"I am not. . . I have no business with the court this morning. . . 't's morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it's like a Roman carnival" (159).
Miss Maudie is one of the best people to grace the streets of Maycomb. She has so much respect for what is going on that she stays home in a silent effort to say so. She understands that the trial should be done in public to keep the proceedings honest; but with the way people are parading into town, they seem to be showing up for the sake of entertainment rather than out of respect for the people or case at hand. Miss Maudie won't participate because she's not one to put her nose in other people's business; plus, she has more respect for the case, the justice system, and herself than to be a part of the charade going on among the spectators.
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