In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird, when Jem says "It's (snow) beautiful," Miss Maudie answers, "Beautiful my hind foot!" What does she mean by this?

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Jem and Scout have never seen snow, so when it snows in Maycomb, Alabama, it is an awe-inspiring and shocking event for the two children, evident from Jem’s exclamation, “It’s beautiful.” Of course, Miss Maudie has a very different point of view. She sees the snow as a threat to her beautiful garden of azaleas. Because of the relatively mild winters in Alabama, her flowers usually have no problem surviving winter. But the unusual snow threatens to kill her flowers, so she must be extra careful to keep her plants warm so they do not die. “Beautiful my hind foot” is meant as a sarcastic reply to Jem's comment. She does not find the snow beautiful at all; the use of the idiom “my hind foot,” emphasizes her disgust and disbelief.

Unfortunately, protecting her flowers from the cold may have destroyed her house. Her house catches fire the evening of the snowfall. Miss Maudie thinks the fire started because she kept a fire going in her kitchen to keep her potted plants warm; somehow that fire spread and ended up burning down the whole house. But Miss Maudie does not pity herself; she says,

Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard. Just think, I’ll have more room for my azaleas now!

She will find a way to make her garden, which is now reduced to "frozen charred azaleas," come back to life, and neither fire nor ice will stop her.

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Jem and Scout had never seen snow before, so the unseasonable climate change in Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird was a first-time experience for the children. School was canceled, and Jem and Scout decided to build their first snowman--provided there was enough snow. Miss Maudie is not happy about the snow, however. Her greatest love is gardening, and she knows her flowers will probably freeze because of the cold weather.

"Beautiful my hind foot! If it freezes tonight, it'll carry off all my azaleas."

Maudie busied herself covering the azaleas in burlap bags, which puzzled Jem, but she told him that it was the only way of possibly saving them.

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