Describe Miss Maudie's personality in To Kill a Mockingbird.  

2 Answers

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Oh Miss Maudie, what a personality!  Miss Maudie Atkinson is the epitome of strength.  Living across the street from Jem and Scout, Miss Maudie is brave enough to look forward to the future even in the event that her house burns down.  (Miss Maudie explains that now she can build a smaller one with more room for flowers.)  No doubt, though, that Miss Maudie has a bit of mischief in her yet.  She does tease the children with her intellect and spit back Bible verses to those who would go so far as to defame her garden.  Probably one of the most important aspects of Miss Maudie's personality is that she confirms Atticus' idea that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because "they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us."  This, as well as the fact that she doesn't talk down to the Finch children and treats them like equals, places her in the same moral plane as Atticus in the mind of the reader.  There can be no higher moral plane than that.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Witty, genuine, caring, perceptive, unbiased, unselfish, strong, and honest, Miss Maudie Atkinson is an "upstanding citizen" in Maycomb. She takes care of her yard, embellishing it with lovely flowers; she bakes goodies for her young neighbors. Miss Maudie is a true friend who listens, explains, and talks with Scout often. Miss Maudie also comforts Scout and keeps her secrets. Scout respects Miss Maudie:

She had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was not at all interested in our private lives.

Amid the gossip and malice of some of the townspeople, Miss Maudie supports Atticus and his ethical convictions, and she also respects the rights of others such as the Radleys and Tom Robinson. In fact, she is one of the few people in town who speaks up against racism:

The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us....

Miss Maudie has no patience with hypocrisy. After the self-righteous and hypocritical Mrs. Merriweather praises a missionary in Africa who works with native people, but makes insulting remarks about her black maid Sophy, Miss Maudie cleverly asks if her husband ever chokes on the maid's cooking. Then she comforts Scout, who was earlier teased about her attire.

Miss Maudie has a sterling character, and she is a very warm and caring neighbor. She exemplifies how to be a "lady" while still maintaining one's individuality.

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