Describe Miss Stephanie Crawford from To Kill a Mockingbird.

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amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Miss Stephanie Crawford is the neighborhood gossip. She makes it a point to know as much as she can about everyone else's business. And she will spread information (and unqualified rumors) as if it is her job. She is mentioned in the first chapter as the one who provided most of the rumors about Arthur 'Boo' Radley to the children. The children let their imaginations run with these rumors, so we can attribute some or most of their monster-like caricatures of Boo to their imaginations. But Miss Stephanie Crawford clearly does not have the whole story, although she presumes to know it all:

So Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighborhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing.

Scout's impression is that Miss Stephanie Crawford took pleasure in being the one to spread news throughout the town, even if that news was troubling. At the end of Chapter 22, she informs Scout that Bob Ewell had spit on Atticus at the post office:

It as Miss Stephanie's pleasure to tell us: this morning Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he'd get him if it took the rest of his life.

 

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Maycomb's greatest busybody, Miss Stephanie Crawford makes it her mission to garner gossip and harmful details about people. If there is a "dirty little secret" on someone, Miss Stephanie is the first to know; if there is a shortage of these secrets, Miss Crawford simply employs her creative powers.

When Scout discusses Miss Maudie, who is busy with real occupations, it becomes apparent that Miss Stephanie is a foil to Miss Maudie:

...she [Miss Maudie] did not go about the neighborhood doing good, as did Miss Stephanie Crawford. But while no one with a grain of sense trusted Miss Stephanie, Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie.

The children also learn that Miss Stephanie is not really a nice person. After all, Miss Stephanie is eager to spread the story of Bob Ewell's having spit in Atticus's face.

Shortly after this incident, when a nervous Scout wears a pretty dress for Aunt Alexandra's missionary tea, instead of complimenting her, Miss Stephanie calls across the room to her, asking if she wants to become a lawyer. Thinking that Miss Stephanie "was kind enough to change the subject," Scout is humiliated when Miss Crawford remarks, 

"Why, shoot, I thought you wanted to be a lawyer, you've already commenced going to court." (Ch.24)

This remark is met with laughter. When asked again if she does not want to become a lawyer, Scout replies that she just wants to be a lady. Miss Crawford disparages her,

"Well, you won't get very far until you start wearing dresses more often." (Ch. 24)

Scout is made to feel very uncomfortable, but Miss Maudie takes her hand and "its warmth was enough" for Scout.

Further, Jem and Scout learn that the obvious disparity between things that Miss Stephanie does and what she says points to the fact that the appearance of things can be deceiving. 

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