How does Lee remind the reader of the character of Miss Stephanie, Miss Rachel, and Miss Maudie through their comments after the trial is over in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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sunshine250495 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Maudie, Miss Stephanie and Miss Rachel all perform the role of the 'Southern-belle'. It is through them that the readers get an insight into Maycomb's society.

Miss Maudie in many ways acts as a mother-like figure to the two children. She like Atticus throughly understands the children's dilemmas and explains things to them in an easy and comprehensive manner. The day after the trail Miss Maudie invites the three children to her house and bakes three cakes for them - two small ones for Scout and Dill and big cake for Jem. These cakes are her silent way of showing support to the children and Atticus even though almost everyone else in Maycomb criticise Atticus's decision to defend Tom Robinson. The big cake is also symbolic of Jem's emotional maturity, as his innocent childlike perspective of the world is shaken by the trial which reveals the town's dark underside consisting of racism, prejudice and hatred in Maycomb's society. He is disillusioned by the blatant injustice done to Tom Robinson, and he starts hating his town and townfolks. Miss Maudie explains to him that the county is not as bad as it seems to him, and there are many others except Atticus like Mr. Heck Tate and Judge Taylor who help Tom Robinson in their own ways. Miss Maudie also praises Atticus's character:

There are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them.

She has an optimistic outlook towards life. She explains to Jem that the very fact that the jury took a long time to arrive at their decision shows that they were making tiny 'baby steps' towards a society free of prejudice and racism.At the tea-party she is the only woman who does not laugh at Scout, highlighting her understanding and compassion towards the children. Scout says:

She never laughed at me unless I meant to be funny.

She silently helps Scout bear the ladies' taunts by the warmth of her hand. Miss Maudie also defends Atticus in the same party. When Mrs. Merriweather criticises Atticus blatantly in his own home, she sharply retorts:

His food doesn't stick going down, does it?

That is she snidely reminds Mrs. Merriweather that she is a guest in Atticus's house, and is eating the food he has bought and yet criticising him openly in front of his sister and daughter. Miss Maudie is one of the staunchest supporter of the Finch family. When later in the kitchen she helps Calpurnia undo her apron she shows herself like Atticus to be a beliver in racial equality. She helps Scout and Aunt Alexandra get over their shock and host the tea-party. She believes in fair play and justice for all races.

Miss Stephanie is the social gossip-monger with unquenchable curiousty. She is shallow and loves conveying jucy tidbits of news across town. It is she who informs Scout and Jem about Bob Ewell's threat to Atticus. Miss Stephanie's only pleasure in life lies in being a society belle, someone who knows all the news and is invited to all important parties. It is only through her that the children learn of the various happenings across the towna nd of Bob Ewell's continous threats to Atticus.

Miss Rachel is Dill's aunt. She is a scatter-brained alcoholic who is rarely in her sober senses, but she cares for her newphew Dill a lot, all the same.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Stephanie, Miss Maudie, and Miss Rachel are all unmarried women who live near the Finch family on Maycomb’s main residential street.  They act pretty much the same way before and after the trial.

Miss Stephanie Crawford is described as “a neighborhood scold” because she is the gossip.  She carefully watches everybody’s business and knows everything about what happens to everybody.  Apparently, Miss Stephanie does try to help her neighbors though, as she is described as one to “go about the neighborhood doing good” (ch 5). 

Miss Stephanie is often cruel.  After Atticus shoots the mad dog, Stephanie suggests that he might not have been sick after all.  When the trial is over, “Miss Stephanie's nose quivered with curiosity” and she wanted to know all kinds of gossip about the court (ch 22).

Did Atticus put us up there as a sort of-? Wasn't it right close up there with all those-? Did Scout understand all the-? Didn't it make us mad to see our daddy beat? (ch 22)

Miss Stephanie is still an incurable gossip, but Miss Maudie Atkinson stops her.  While Miss Stephanie makes things worse, Miss Maudie makes them better.

"Hush, Stephanie." Miss Maudie's diction was deadly. "I've not got all the morning to pass on the porch.. (ch 22)

Miss Stephanie also gladly tells Jem and Scout that Bob Ewell spat in Atticus’s face and threatened to kill him.  She thinks the incident is funny, especially Atticus’s response that he is not too proud to fight, but too old.

Scout describes Miss Maudie as a friend.  She minds her own business and does not tell on them or get involved in their private lives.  She comforts them when they need it.

But while no one with a grain of sense trusted Miss Stephanie, Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. (ch 5)

Jem and Scout play in Miss Maudie’s yard, but their “contact with her was not clearly defined” (ch 5).  After the trial, Miss Maudie also tells Jem that things are never as bad as they seem.

"I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them." (ch 22)

She comforts and protects the kids, and reminds them that their father is a great man and they should respect what he has done.

Miss Rachel Haverford is Dill’s aunt.  She can be high-strung at times.

Miss Rachel went off like the town fire siren: "Do-o-o Jee-sus, Dill Harris! Gamblin' by my fishpool?  I'll strip-poker you, sir!" (ch 6)

After the trial, Dill tells Jem and Scout her reaction.

Between rabbit-bites Dill told us of Miss Rachel's reaction to last night, which was: if a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone wall it's his head. (ch 22)

Miss Rachel is close to Atticus and respectful of him, but also thinks he is fighting a losing battle.

Thus, within a few pages after the trial we have been reminded of all three women, and all three act as they normally do.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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