What causes Scout to question "pulpit Gospel"? How does her questioning relate to Miss Maudie? 

What causes Scout to question "pulpit Gospel"? How does her questioning relate to Miss Maudie?


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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter five, Scout is talking to Miss Maudie about Boo Radley. Miss Maudie tells Scout that Mr. Radley is a very strict Baptist who doesn't believe in doing anything pleasurable because he considers it sinning. She tells Scout that people like that interpret the Bible literally and deny themselves anything pleasurable. In an effort to give Scout an example, Maudie tells Scout how some of those foot-washers told her she would go to hell because spends time in her garden when she could be reading the Bible. Scout's response is as follows:

"My confidence in pulpit Gospel lessened at the vision of Miss Maudie stewing forever in various Protestant hells. True enough, she had an acid tongue in her head, and she did not go about the neighborhood doing good, as did Miss Stephanie Crawford. But while no one with a grain of sense trusted Miss Stephanie, Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie" (44).

Basically, Scout says that anyone who thinks Miss Maudie is going to hell doesn't know what they are talking about. Scout goes on to say that Miss Maudie doesn't get into people's business, she doesn't gossip, and she doesn't hurt anyone. These positive attributes make Scout confused as to why anyone would be so quick to tell Miss Maudie she is going to hell. Scout determines that anyone who would send Miss Maudie to hell isn't worth listening to in or outside of church.

mrwickline eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout questions the “pulpit gospel” after envisioning Miss Maudie in hell. Miss Maudie told Scout about an instance when “some of ‘em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me and my flowers were going to hell.” Scout’s confidence in the fact that Miss Maudie was a “reasonable creature” because she never told on them and was not interested in their private lives contrasts greatly with the Baptists' claim. Scout views Miss Maudie as a friend despite her “acid tongue” and the fact she did not go about the neighborhood “doing good” like Miss Stephanie Crawford. Scout uses the word “incomprehensible” to describe her feelings about Miss Maudie burning in eternal torment and peril.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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