What does Uncle Jack Finch mean in Chapter 5 when he says, "Best defense to her was spirited offense."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Throughout the narrative of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird there are a number of parodic images of hetereosexual relationships, contends writer/critic Gary Richards and Uncle Jack's calling over to Miss Maudie exemplfies one of these. In his forties, Uncle Jack has never married and expresses his distaste for female company as he remarks that his yellow cat is one of the few females he could stand permanently, and, as Scout points out, he "confined his passion to digging in his window boxes in Nashville, and stayed rich."

Miss Maudie and Jack have known each other since they were children, having grown up together on Finch's landing, and they are friends. So, when he visits his brother at Christmastime, he calls to Miss Maudie as though she is his "Coy Mistress" just to tease her, and because he is the "last person she would want to marry," he uses his "spirited offense" as a defense. The parody of hetereosexuality here is nothing but satiric, and also hints at the hand of Truman Capote in the narrative.