In to Kill a Mockingbird, why does Miss Maudie say Scout is being morbid?

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huntress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout starts hanging out with Miss Maudie without Jem and Dill when the two started plotting in the treehouse and generally acting like they didn't want her around (calling her a "gi-irl"). Scout asks her one day if she thinks Boo Radley is still alive. Miss Maudie says, "His name's Arthur and he's still alive." Scout asks her how she knows, which is when Miss Maudie said, "What a morbid question" (48). 

Morbid means "having an unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, especially death and disease." It's a morbid question because Arthur "Boo" Radley hasn't been seen outside of his house in more than fifteen years, and there are multiple neighborhood ideas of what became of him. They have made him into a "malevolent phantom," in their minds, anyway. It's a bit morbid to imagine that Arthur is in the house but long dead, which is what makes this a morbid question. 

poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Maudie refers to Scout as "morbid" in response to Scout's persistent line of questioning about Boo Radley. After Scout starts to feel ostracized by Dill and Jem--who have increasingly pushed her aside and dismissed her for being a girl--Scout spends more and more time with Miss Maudie.

Scout pesters Miss Maudie by asking if Boo Radley is still alive; when Miss Maudie corrects her regarding Boo's real name (Arthur) and assures Scout that he is still alive, Scout demands to know how Miss Maudie knows this. It is this question which makes her call Scout morbid. In reality, this is not that outlandish of a question for a child to ask. Boo has not been seen in over fifteen years, and to the wandering imagination of a kid, this could easily be seen as evidence that he is deceased. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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