What is a lesson Miss Maudie teaches Jem and Scout in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most important lessons Miss Maudie teaches the children in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is to see the world more optimistically, especially to see the results of the trial more optimistically.

The day after the trial, Miss Maudie invites the children into her home for cake in order to cheer them up. Jem especially feels gloomy because he thinks no one in the town but his father tried to help Tom Robinson, and now the whole town is against his father even though Robinson was clearly shown to be innocent during the trial. Miss Maudie comforts Jem by explaining more people helped Robinson than he realizes, including the African-American community, Sheriff Heck Tate, and even Judge Taylor who appointed Atticus to defend Robinson intentionally. Normally, a case like Robinson's, doomed to failure, would have gone to Maxwell Green, the lawyer with the least experience.

Miss Maudie further teaches the children to see things more optimistically when she points out how long the jury had been out. She explains that, as she waited for the Finches to come home, she thought to herself that no one but Atticus could have kept a "jury out so long in a case like that" (Ch. 22). She further states she had thought to herself, "[W]e're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step" (Ch. 22). After this lesson, Jem, as well as the other children, is able to better understand and appreciation what Atticus had accomplished.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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