What does Miss Maudie call the snowman in To Kill a Mockingbird and why?
Jem and Scout are excited about the unseasonal snowfall in Maycomb since neither of them had ever seen snow before. With school canceled, they naturally did what every child new to snow would be expected to do: build a snowman. But the snowfall was light, and Jem soon realizes they won't have enough snow to build a full-sized snowman; even with the snow from Miss Maudie's yard, there wouldn't be enough. So Jem comes up with the idea of using dirt and mud for the inside with snow on the outside. Additionally, they decide to make the snowman look like their neighbor, Dick Avery, complete with a big belly and hands on his hips. But when Atticus sees how closely the snowman resembles Mr. Avery, he declares that
"You've perpetrated a near libel here in the front yard. We've got to disguise this fellow...
"You can't go around making caricatures of the neighbors." (Chapter 8)
So, the children reduced the belly, "swap[ped] a broom for the stovewood, and put an apron on him." They completed the transforamtion by adding Miss Maudie's sunhat "on the snowman's head and jammed her hedgeclippers into the crook of his arm." Since the snowman had characteristics of both Miss Maudie and Mr. Avery--a man and a woman--Scout overheard Miss Maudie tell Atticus that they had
"... erected an absolute morphodite in that yard!" (Chapter 8)
But Scout had misunderstood Miss Maudie's "morphodite" for the word "hermaphrodite"--a character with both male and female traits. Additionally, they had also created a mixed-race snowman--black on the inside and white on the outside.
In chapter 8, Maycomb experiences a rare snowfall and the children attempt to make a snowman in their front yard using a mixture of snow and dirt. Initially, Jem's snowman resembles their overweight neighbor, Mr. Avery. When Atticus sees the snowman for the first time, he is impressed that Jem replicated their neighbor so well. Atticus then suggests that Jem make his creation thinner, swap a broom for the stovewood, and put an apron on it. Jem then races across the street and returns with a sunhat and hedge clippers, which he sticks into the snowman. When Miss Maudie witnesses Jem's creation, she yells,
erected an absolute morphodite in that yard! Atticus, you’ll never raise ‘em (Lee, 70).
A "morphodite" is a slang term used for hermaphrodite, which is a person with both male and female reproductive organs. Maudie uses this term to describe Jem's creation because he changed it from resembling Mr. Avery to herself.