To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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After the trial, why does Miss Maudie bake a large cake and only two small ones? How does this make Jem feel?

Miss Maudie makes smaller cakes for Dill and Scout and a larger cake for the adults to share. She cuts Jem a slice from the large cake to signify his maturity and understanding of Tom's trial. Despite the kind gesture from Miss Maudie, Jem barely eats his cake because he is bitter about the trial's unjust end. She tries to comfort him by mentioning the people who supported Tom and Atticus throughout the trial.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The day after the Tom Robinson trial, Miss Maudie calls Jem and the children over to have some her famous cake. Scout notices that Miss Maudie had baked one large cake along with two smaller ones and wondered whether Miss Maudie had forgotten to bake a third small cake for Dill. However, Scout understands Maudie's reasoning when she serves Jem a slice from the big cake. Serving Jem from the big cake is Maudie's way of acknowledging his growth and maturity. She understands that Jem comprehends the significance of Tom's wrongful conviction and feels like it's necessary to treat him like an adult. Despite Maudie's affection, Jem hardly eats his cake and laments his prejudiced community. Jem has become jaded after witnessing racial injustice firsthand, and Maudie attempts to comfort him by mentioning the various people who supported Tom and Atticus.

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Miss Maudie is recognizing Jem's movement from adolescence to adulthood with the cakes she has chosen to bake.  The small cakes are for the children--they have their own, and won't need to share.  Adults, however, expect to share in the communion of spirit and food.  She cuts him a slice from the larger cake--the cake which is a coming of age moment for him.  A slice of understanding and adult knowledge that come with growing older and wiser.  Miss Maudie is paying Jem homage as a "man" in bloom.

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podunc eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 22 when Jem, Scout, and Dill arrive at Miss Maudie's house and there are only two small cakes, at first they believe that Miss Maudie has forgotten Dill. However, they "understand" when "she cut[s] from the big cake and g[ives] the slice to Jem."

Miss Maudie sees that Jem is old enough to grasp the meaning of what has happened at Tom Robinson's trial. She responds to this by serving him from a "grownup" cake and speaking about the trial with him in an adult manner. Jem is deeply discouraged about the outcome, and Miss Maudie explains that not everyone in Maycomb is corrupt--for example, it was "no accident" that Judge Taylor assigned Atticus to the case instead of the unexperienced public defender.

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hrrippetoe | Student

Miss Maudie feels that Jem has grown up throughout the course of this trial.  She bakes the small cakes for Dill and Scout; however, Jem's maturity has earned him a slice of the big cake.  Miss Maudie feels that Jem is closer to becoming a man.