According to Miss Maudie, what ray of optimism could be found in the outcome of the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Ever the optimist, Miss Maudie recognizes that Maycomb has taken "a baby-step" forward despite Tom's conviction and impending visit to the Alabama electric chair. Maudie sees many small victories in Atticus's defeat: He has managed to sway one juror, a holdout who was a member of the lynch party that confronted Atticus at the jail. Atticus made it clear to everyone--except the jurors, apparently--that Bob and Mayella Ewell were lying and that Tom's crippled arm prevented him from raping or beating Mayella. Maudie tells Jem that Atticus has quiet support from others in Maycomb, and that it was "no accident" that Judge Taylor had appointed Atticus to defend Tom instead of the less-experienced public defender. Like Atticus, Maudie knew that the time was not yet ripe for Tom's acquittal:
"Atticus Finch won't win, he can't win, but he's the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like this. And I thought to myself, well, we're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step." (Chapter 22)
It was a tiny step forward for the town--and especially the residents of the Quarters--toward racial equality, social awareness, liberal thinking, civil rights, and judicial reform.