To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Why does Miss Maudie make a comparison between a "Roman carnival" and the people passing by to attend the trial at the courthouse in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In Chapter 16 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem, Dill, and Scout stand outside observing all of the county's folks journeying to the courthouse in town on the day of Tom Robinson's trial. Miss Maudie also comes out on her porch just as a wagonload of foot-washers drive past, mocking Miss Maudie for the vanity she displays in her yard full of summer flowers. After Miss Maudie mocks them right back, the kids approach her house to converse with her. When the kids ask her if she is going to the courthouse to observe the trial, Miss Maudie replies:

I am not. 't's morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it's like a Roman carnival. (Ch. 16)

By speaking of a "Roman carnival," Miss Maudie is referring to the fact that Roman Catholics have a time of festival just before their period of Lent....

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