To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what happened to Miss Maudie's house and what was her reaction?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 8, Maycomb experiences its first snowfall since 1885, and the town ends up canceling school. Jem and Scout spend the day playing outside in the snow and even create a makeshift snowman out of dirt and a thin layer of snow. That night, Atticus wakes Jem and Scout and informs them that Miss Maudie's house is on fire. He then instructs Jem to stand with Scout in the Radley yard, which is a safe distance from the house fire. Both Jem and Scout watch from the Radley yard as their neighbors attempt to save Maudie's furniture before her home collapses in flames. Fortunately, no one is hurt, and the community is able to rescue some of Maudie's possessions before she loses her home.

The next morning, both Jem and Scout are surprised by Miss Maudie's positive attitude regarding the destruction of her home. When Jem tells Maudie that they are awfully sorry about her home, Maudie responds by saying,

Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard. Just think, I’ll have more room for my azaleas now!

Miss Maudie's reaction and composure following the tragic loss of her home illustrates her optimistic, appreciative personality.

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Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter 8, Miss Maudie's house burns to the ground. According to Atticus, the house is all Miss Maudie had. Despite this fact, Miss Maudie is surprisingly optimistic, almost upbeat. She claims that with the old house gone, she can build a smaller house and have more room for her flowers. What is more surprising, and this shows how selfless Miss Maudie is, is that she doesn't wallow in her loss. In fact, she asks Scout about her encounter with Boo Radley the previous night (when the fire was burning).

Miss Maudie puzzled me. With most of her possessions gone and her beloved yard a shambles, she still took a lively interest in Jem's and my affairs.

Miss Maudie then tells Scout that she (Miss Maudie) was more worried about the commotion and possible distress the fire may have caused for other people. She's just thankful that the fire did not spread to other houses. This is another example of Miss Maudie's acute and optimistic perspective and it shows how she is always thinking of others.

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