Uncle Jack Finch says the “best defense to her [Miss Maudie] was spirited offense.” What does he mean by that?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Uncle Jack likes to joke around with Miss Maudie. This is understandable, given that she has such a lively sense of humor. Every Christmas when he comes over to visit his brother and the kids, he always yells across the street at Miss Maudie, jokingly requesting her to come and marry him. She, in turn, always responds by hollering, "Call a little louder, Jack Finch, and they’ll hear you at the post office, I haven’t heard you yet!"

Miss Maudie and Uncle Jack have known each other since they were kids, and for the last forty years, Jack's been trying manfully to get Maudie's goat, but without success. Jack's the last person on earth that Maudie would ever consent to marry, but he's the very first person that she'd consider teasing. So Jack figures that it's best to get his retaliation in first. And as attack is often the best form of defense, he always makes sure that he's the one to start teasing. This is what's meant by "spirited offense."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Uncle Jack and Miss Maudie had known each other since childhood.  In other words, they had a history together. They knew how to push each other's buttons and tease each other. When Uncle Jack would yell his marriage proposal across to Miss Maudie, he wasn't serious.  He has told the children that Miss Maudie loved to tease him. He was,

"...the first person she thought about teasing...." (pg 44)

So, if he could get to her first and tease her or give he a bad time first, then he would be ahead of the game.  In other words, if he made the first attack, hence the offense, she would have to defend herself.  He liked to attack first before she had a chance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial