In Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what causes Miss Maudie to say that at least they have made a "baby step" in the right direction?
In chapter 22, Miss Maudie bakes several cakes for the children following the trial in an attempt to cheer them up. While the children are eating their cakes, Maudie attempts to console Jem by explaining to him that Atticus had a difficult yet valiant task in defending Tom Robinson. She then mentions that there are many people in the community who support Atticus's efforts. After Jem responds by asking,
"Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who?" (Lee, 219).
Maudie tells Jem that the entire African American community supported Tom and that Judge Taylor specifically presented Atticus, rather than the less experienced Maxwell Green, with the task of defending Tom. Maudie also mentions that Heck Tate supported Atticus and that a jury has never deliberated that long before making a decision. After mentioning all of the significant people who supported Atticus, Miss Maudie says,
"And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a babystep, but it’s a step" (Lee, 220).
Despite Tom's wrongful conviction, Miss Maudie is able to see the many positives surrounding the case and believes that her prejudiced community is making small steps in the right direction towards racial equality.
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Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird deals with the aftermath of the Tom Robinson trial. Although Jem is distraught that Tom has been convicted, most of the other neighbors realize that a black man is not going to get a fair shake in Maycomb--not yet. When Jem claims that no one stepped up to help Tom, Miss Maudie steps in. She points out that Judge Taylor assigns Atticus specifically so that Tom will get the best representation possible.
"You think about that," Miss Maudie was saying... "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 that. And I thought to myself, well, we're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step."
For Maycomb, it is the first step toward achieving racial equity for the black citizens of the town.
The African Americans have suffered in darkness: constantly enduring racial prejudice as their hope for change eventually declined. They have no voice in society, no way to present their views and even attempt to change how African-Americans are viewed. That is, before Atticus is appointed as the defense attorney of African American Tom Robinson. Though Atticus may lose this case, it is indeed a "baby step" to publicly emphasize what the society has done wrong by branding all blacks as liers, beasts, etc. This case has presented the black community with an opportunity to publicize and voice their own opinions through Atticus as he defends Tom Robinson.