In To Kill a Mockingbird, Miss Maudie tells Jem that "things are never as bad as they seem." What reason does she give for this view?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is in Chapter 22, right after the verdict in the trial. Jem is visibly upset that Atticus lost the case, not just because his father was on the losing end, but also because he recognized that there is blatant injustice in the world. In talking with Miss Maudie, he says, "I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that's what they seemed like." Jem was under the impression that nobody, besides Atticus, did anything to help Tom. Miss Maudie tells him that there are more people like Atticus in Maycomb, people who would and do help others.

One of Miss Maudie's examples is Judge Taylor. She tells Jem that Judge Taylor could have chosen Maxwell Green to represent Tom. Maxwell Green had just been appointed and would not have the experience required to handle Tom's case. Judge Taylor chose Atticus because he knew Atticus had the integrity and experience to best represent Tom and argue his case. Miss Maudie also notes herself, the children (Jem, Scout, and Dill), and Heck Tate as some of Maycomb's citizens who have a sense of justice. So, as disheartening as the outcome of the case was, Miss Maudie there are those who do what they can to fight injustice. As she waited for Atticus and the kids to return from the trial, she thought:

"I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s ust a baby-step, but it’s a step.” 

Things are not as bad as Jem had thought because, despite the fact that Atticus didn't really have a chance to win in a town where racism is still so prevalent, there were little things (baby-steps), such as Taylor appointing Atticus, that indicated some kind of social progress. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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