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Scout knows that Miss Maudie Atkinson is not only a neighbor but a person she can consider a friend. A widower like Atticus, Maudie has also chosen to remain single, and she maintains an independent nature throughout the novel. Like Atticus, she is intelligent and wise, and she has no qualms about imparting her wisdom to her young neighbor. However, she always treats Jem and Scout as equals as a good friend should. She shows her moral strength on several occasions, particularly after her house burns to the ground. She stands up to the religious folks who condemn her garden and to those who condemn others under the guise of the church. She reserves sharp words for those who deserve them (the ladies of the Missionary Circle), and shows her dedication to her true friends (Atticus and his defense of Tom Robinson).
Much like Atticus Finch, Miss Maudie sets an example of fortitude, integrity, and charity through her words and actions. When her house burns in the night, she does not whine about her loss:
"Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch."
Charitably, she tells Scout not to worry about her, also, and is concerned that others in the neighborhood could have been injured:
Only thing I worried about last night was all the danger and commotion I caused....Mr. avery'll be in bed for a week....
When Mrs. Merriweather criticizes Atticus indirectly--"...there are some good but misguided people in this town"--and disparages her maid, Sophy, Miss Maudie comes to the defense of Aunt Alexandra wrily asks her about her husband,
"His food doesn't stick going down, does it?"
"Maudie, I'm sure I don't know what you mean," said Mrs. Merriweather.
"I'm sure you do," Miss Maudie said shortly.
Never afraid to speak out against hypocrisy, Miss Maudie counters the fundamentalists by quoting scripture back to them. Whenever the town gossip creates rumors, she stops her with a cryptic remark. After the Tom Robinson trial, as an anxious Aunt Alexandra mentions how the events "tear him to pieces," Miss Maudie comforts her and castigates the pompous who malign Atticus:
"Whether maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right...The handful of people in this won with background, that's who they are."
Certainly, Miss Maudie stands with Atticus Finch as one of the "handful of people with background." Of noble character, Miss Maudie knows the true meaning of charity, love, and integrity.
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