His Food Doesn't Stick Going Down Does It
"His food doesn't stick going down, does it?" (chapter 24, p.236). What does it mean?
This quote is spoken by Miss Maudie, someone who knows how to speak her mind and is unafraid to do so. She has been a supporter of Atticus since we first met her, and it is through her Scout and Jem begin to see Atticus in a new light. She points out that he's not boring and dull, as his children think he is. Instead, he can write airtight contracts, shoot better than anyone else in Maycomb County, does the unpleasant work on behalf of the town (which they're unwilling to do), and acts the same in his house as he does on the streets. She recognizes in him the qualities which may not be glamorous but are characteristics everyone should want to have and should appreciate in others.
So, when Miss Maudie hears good "Christian" ladies at a Missionary Circle meeting--a meeting held in Atticus' house, no less--complaining about the Negroes in town getting all stirred up by the trial and blaming Atticus for that unrest...well, she must speak.
The comment itself is fairly literal--you may not like what Atticus is doing, but you sure don"t have any trouble eating the food his work provided. It's a roundabout way of calling out the hypocrites without actually doing any namecalling. Miss Maudie is subtle but her point is clear, just what we'd expect from her.
This quote is seen in Chapter 24 when the missionary circle is having their meeting at the Finch house. They are there because Aunt Alexandra is a member.
While they are at the Finch house, a number of the women are complaining about the black people of Maycomb. In this particular instance, Mrs. Merriweather is complaining about how her servant Sophy has been "sulky" ever since Tom Robinson's trial. She also talks about how "some people" (meaning Atticus) have stirred the black people up. She says that people like Atticus think they are doing well but they really are not.
It is at that point that Miss Maudie says the line you mention. What she is saying is that Mrs. Merriweather is criticizing Atticus yet happily eating his food -- food bought with money he made. The food does not "stick" -- it does not bother Mrs. Merriweather to eat it. So Miss Maudie is pointing out the hypocrisy of Mrs. Merriweather's attitude towards Atticus.
I've read the book over a dozen times and this line always confused me. In grade 10, I thought it read like this, "His FOOD doesn't stick..." because although they have a hard time swallowing his morals, they have no problem eating his food.
Another note: Calpurnia prepared all the food; it bothered me that Maudie would call it "his" food, when Cal turned all those ingredients into goodies. Props to Cal. Anyone else think of Cal when you read, "The Help?"
Miss. Maudie understands that Atticus is doing right thing. His judgement is based on basic human conscience. His mind is much more peaceful than hypocritical Maycom missionary teas. Therefore there is no reason for him to have an indigestion problem with the food he has had.