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Author Harper Lee is not kind to most of the women in To Kill a Mockingbird. Miss Stephanie is a relentless gossip; Aunt Alexandra believes no one is equal to the Finches; Dill's Aunt Rachel is a closet alcoholic; Mayella Ewell is an ignorant, hateful liar; Scout's teachers do not practice what they preach; and the ladies of the Missionary Circle are hypocritical and racist. But Lee creates a strong, independent woman in Maudie Atkinson. A widow (Scout and Jem call her "Miss" in the usual Southern manner of respect), Maudie has never remarried, and she needs no man to take care of her. She is friends with the other ladies mentioned, but she never sinks to their own levels of gossip and hypocrisy. Maudie treats Jem and Scout as adults, never talking down to them, and the advice she offers them is always honest and in their best interests. She is a true and loyal friend to Atticus, and she lets the children know that their father is not an ordinary man. Above all,
Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. She had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was not at all interested in our private lives. She was our friend.
"... Miss Maudie. Your the best woman I know."
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