To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What does the town's response to the fire at Miss Maudie's house reveal about Maycomb's universe of obligation in this chapter?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,300 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In chapter 8, Miss Maudie's home catches on fire, and the entire community of Maycomb comes to her aid by attempting to save all of her furniture before the home collapses. Scout and Jem watch from a safe distance as Atticus and their neighbors work together to save Maudie's possessions. As the flames spread throughout the home, the children watch Atticus carry Maudie's heavy oak rocking chair out of her house while Mr. Avery pushes her bed out of the upstairs window.

When the flames reach the upstairs of the home, Mr. Avery attempts to squeeze through the small window and almost gets stuck while he escapes the house. In addition to witnessing the local men enter Maudie's dangerous burning home to save her furniture, Scout and Jem also watch as the men push Maycomb's broken-down firetruck to the nearest hydrant.

In regards to the universe of obligation, the audience recognizes that the citizens of Maycomb feel obligated to help their community members in need. The citizens of Maycomb immediately come to Maudie's aid and do not hesitate to help her. They selflessly risk their lives in order to save her furniture, which demonstrates their compassion, support, and responsibility. The citizens feel obligated to help a neighbor in need and spare no expense when administering aid.