Miss Maudie is both permissive and nice, and she becomes a friend to the children, especially Scout.
Miss Maudie is permissive. This means that she mostly lets the children do what they want to do. Scout and Jem have “the free run of Miss Maudie’s yard” as long as they don’t ruin her prized azaleas. Scout considers her a “benign presence,” meaning that she is harmless. The children are just happy to have another yard to play in.
Our tacit treaty with Miss Maudie was that we could play on her lawn, eat her scuppernongs if we didn’t jump on the arbor, and explore her vast back lot, terms so generous we seldom spoke to her, so careful were we to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship… (Ch. 5)
Most adults are not nice enough to let children who are not theirs run all over their yard, drink from their cow, and eat their fruit. Miss Maudie seems to like the children though, and they like her. After they get to know her, they find her permissiveness extends to other subjects that most of the other adults of Maycomb prefer not to discuss with them, like Boo Radley.
“Arthur Radley just stays in the house, that’s all,” said Miss Maudie. “Wouldn’t you stay in the house if you didn’t want to come out?”
“Yessum, but I’d wanta come out. Why doesn’t he?”
Miss Maudie’s eyes narrowed. “You know that story as well as I do.”
“I never heard why, though. Nobody ever told me why.”
Miss Maudie settled her bridgework. “You know old Mr. Radley was a footwashing Baptist-” (Ch. 5)
Thus while Miss Maudie originally was not willing to talk about Boo Radley, when Scout explained why she wanted to hear the story, Miss Maudie complied and agreed to tell it. This is another example of her willingness to give in, but again it is not just out of permissiveness, but also out of an understanding with the children. She treats them with kindness, dignity, and respect.
Miss Maudie is also very nice. She treats the children like adults, or like friends.
She made the best cakes in the neighborhood. When she was admitted into our confidence, every time she baked she made a big cake and three little ones, and she would call across the street: “Jem Finch, Scout Finch, Charles Baker Harris, come here!” Our promptness was always rewarded. (Ch. 5)
When Scout is arguing with Dill and Jem, she knows that she is always welcome to go sit with Miss Maudie on the porch, and she will not judge her. Miss Maudie is not like other adults who tease.
Another example of Miss Maudie being nice to Scout is when the other ladies, especially Miss Stephanie Crawford, were teasing her. Miss Maudie was there for her, a bastion of comfort. All she had to do was stay quietly by Scout’s side and hold her hand.
Stephanie was encouraged to pursue the subject: “Don’t you want to grow up to be a lawyer?”
Miss Maudie’s hand touched mine and I answered mildly enough, “Nome, just a lady.”
Miss Stephanie eyed me suspiciously, decided that I meant no impertinence, and contented herself with, “Well, you won’t get very far until you start wearing dresses more often.”
Miss Maudie’s hand closed tightly on mine, and I said nothing. Its warmth was enough. (Ch. 24)
In this case, Stephanie Crawford and the other ladies are doing what grown-ups often do to children—tease them and make fun of them at their expense. They find her an easy target since her father is defending Tom Robinson, and they already make fun of her for wearing overalls instead of dresses. Miss Maudie is being a friend though. She is standing by Scout, and not only is she not joining in on the fun, but she is also giving Scout her hand for support, to show her quietly and calmly that she is on her side.
Even though Miss Maudie is an adult, she is Scout’s friend. Scout is navigating a very difficult time in her life, when she not only has to learn how to grow up—and become a lady, no less—but also has to do so during the trial of the century for Maycomb, where her father has made the whole family targets by defending Tom Robinson. Miss Maudie’s constant presence of warmth and friendship, guidance, and information helps Scout through the tough times.
Thx sooooooo much