How does Lee use details in To Kill a Mockingbird to present Miss Maudie's view of Maycomb?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like Atticus, Miss Maudie is honest and she points out hypocrisy when she sees it. In Chapter 5, Scout remarks that Miss Maudie didn't go around doing good as Stephanie Crawford did, but Scout had more faith in Miss Maudie because she didn't need to profess or show off her goodness. Scout recognizes that Miss Maudie simply is good and she shows that in how she lives. 

In Chapter 24, the self-righteous Mrs. Merriweather reveals her racist attitudes. She criticizes the idea of whites helping blacks (alluding also to Atticus defending Tom) in saying that "all they did was stir 'em up." In other words, whenever people (white or black) fight for equality and justice, this (according to Mrs. Merriweather) is dangerous because African-Americans might start to think they are equal citizens or they might sulk if equality is denied them. Mrs. Merriweather then complains that her cook, Sophy, was also getting stirred up and she almost fired her. Miss Maudie, not missing a chance to subtly point out Mrs. Merriweather's racism and hypocrisy responds that Mrs. Merriweather still eats the food Sophy makes. This is subtle but Miss Maudie's remark is meant to tell Mrs. Merriweather that while she claims to keep Sophy so that Sophy has some money coming in, Mrs. Merriweather keeps Sophy so she can have a servant to cook for her. Mrs. Merriweather claims to not understand what Miss Maudie means and then goes on to complain about Mrs. Roosevelt sitting with African-Americans. 

At the end of Chapter 24, Miss Maudie explains her views of Maycomb, in reference to Tom's trial. She notes that there are some people in Maycomb, only a handful, who believe in justice for all. These are the people who supported Atticus in defending Tom: 

"The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us; the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord’s kindness am l.” Miss Maudie’s old crispness was returning: “The handful of people in this town with background, that’s who they are.” 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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