Does Miss Maudie act improper or is she considered breaking the code?

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gkopf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird, there are many adult characters who Scout and Jem come in contact with. All of these adults have expectation about how Scout and Jem should act, and this even extends to Atticus as it becomes known that he will defend a black man in court. Maycomb, AL, though a fictional town, is modeled after the attitudes of people in the Deep South during the first half of the century. They seem stuck in their ways, and refuse to change--especially when it comes to race. They also seem hypocritical in their views; they feel sorry for the Jews in the concentration camps, but do not acknowledge their own prejudices towards African Americans. 

For the most part, the adults stick to their own "code" of expectations. Aunt Alexandra disapproves of Atticus's choice to defend Tom Robinson, and disapproves of how he raises Scout and Jem (she wants Scout in particular to act more traditionally ladylike). Stephanie Crawford, a neighbor, has her expectations about race relations and is a well-known gossip. Scout's female teachers expect her to be ladylike, to not read at home, and to subscribe to their world views.

Miss Maudie, on the other hand, breaks the code.  She does not gossip or concern herself with the hypocritical views of her neighbors.  She keeps to herself, and treats the kids almost like adults.  She is caring and motherly, but independent.  Compared with the other female characters, she is trustworthy, outwardly unbiased, and rational in her expectations.  To other characters, she can be seen as "breaking the code" or "acting improper" but she does not care.

user7771127 | Student

Miss Maudie breaks the "code" in reference to how many of the other woman in Maycombe behave and often times what they believe and say. In chapter 5 we are first introduced to Miss Maudie. From the beginning we learn that Miss Maudie is not like most woman in Maycombe. She enjoys being outside working in her garden, while most women prefer being inside reading the Bible or gossiping. Miss. Maudie is also nice to the kids. She feeds the sweets and lets them play in her yard. Evidence of Miss Maudie's character can be found in the following passage from Chapter 5:

Miss Maudie hated her house: time spent indoors was time wasted. She was a widow, a chameleon lady who worked in her flower beds in an old straw hat and men’s coveralls, but after her five o’clock bath she would appear on the porch and reign over the street in magisterial beauty. She loved everything that grew in God’s earth, even the weeds. With one exception. If she found a blade of nut grass in her yard it was like the Second Battle of the Marne: she swooped down upon it with a tin tub and subjected it to blasts from beneath with a poisonous substance she said was so powerful it’d kill us all if we didn’t stand out of the way.

Miss Maudie in a sense is another representation of the Mockingbird based on her caring, non-judgmental character. She is nice to Scout and Jem, she is unbiased, and exemplifies a good-hearted nature, even when she loses her home, as evidence by her showing concern for what the children had going on, even after she lost all had she had. She is very different from many of the women that we see throughout the novel.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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