How does author Harper Lee use Miss Maudie's conversation with Jem and Scout the morning after the fire to illustrate the theme of racism in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author's symbolic use of racism in the destruction of Miss Maudie's house is shown in several manners. First, she is happy to see her old house destroyed; now, she can build a new one from scratch to her own specifications. This procedure is symbolic of how racism must be destroyed completely before more enlightened thought can rise anew. It was earlier illustrated by her hatred of the nut grass which can't simply be pulled up, but which must be destroyed at the roots. Her beloved plants are "charred" black, but to Maudie, they are still beautiful; and like the house, they can be replanted and brought to new life. Maudie herself symbolizes that skin color is unimportant with her "palms, brown with dirt and dried blood." And the Morphodite Snowman, once black on the inside and white on the outside, has lost its whiteness, reduced to a black, frozen shell--symbolic of the irrelevance of skin color and the importance of what is inside a man.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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