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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's difficult to imagine two more contrasting characters than Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie. Miss Stephanie Crawford is Maycomb's resident gossip, a busybody who just has to make everyone else's business her own. She doesn't just love to spread gossip; she likes to stir things up. Just about everyone in town thinks Atticus is incredibly heroic for shooting the rabid dog, Tim Johnson, but not Stephanie. She wonders whether the dog's owner, Harry Johnson, will be quite so admiring of Atticus when he comes home and finds out his dog's been shot.

Miss Stephanie, in common with the other ladies of Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle, is something of a hypocrite. She expresses faux outrage over the condition of the poor, benighted natives of the Mruna in Africa whilst casually using racist epithets in condemning Maycomb's African American community.

Miss Maudie, on the other hand, is much more likable, though Miss Stephanie doesn't exactly set the bar too high in that regard. Maudie's a very relaxed, laid-back kind of person, taking life as it comes with a smile and a shrug. She retains her unshakable equanimity even after her house is completely destroyed in a fire. Oh well, she thinks, at least now I'll be able to build a home with a bigger garden.

And gardening is indeed Miss Maudie's real passion in life, and she likes nothing better than to spend most of the day slumming around in overalls. Yet at the same time, she still manages to retain a more genuine ladylike demeanor than most of the fine, upstanding ladies in town. In that sense, she acts as a much better role model for Scout than, say, Aunt Alexandra. Scout wants to be a lady, but not like those in Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle. She also wants to be a lady while still being able to wear overalls without fear. Miss Maudie shows her how.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite their minor similarities, Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie Crawford have two extremely different personalities throughout the novel.

Miss Stephanie is referred to as the "neighborhood scold" and spreads negative rumors about Arthur "Boo" Radley. At the beginning of the story, Scout mentions that Jem gets most of his information from Miss Stephanie, who claims that she caught Boo staring into her window one night. Miss Stephanie is a notorious gossip, who enjoys socializing with her neighbors about nearly everything that happens in Maycomb.

In contrast, Miss Maudie is portrayed as a calm, understanding woman who has a great relationship with the Finch children. Unlike Miss Stephanie, Maudie chooses her words wisely and does not indirectly harm others by spreading rumors. Maudie is an honest woman and tells Scout the truth about Boo Radley in chapter 5. There are also situations where Miss Maudie criticizes Miss Stephanie for her loud mouth and ignorance. Miss Maudie also encourages and comforts the Finch children following the Tom Robinson trial, while Miss Stephanie simply criticizes Atticus for his unpopular defense.

Overall, Miss Maudie is depicted as a mature, trustworthy woman, while Miss Stephanie is portrayed as an unsympathetic gossip.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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