In what ways does Miss Maudie provide background information for each individual in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In multiple places throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee uses Miss Maudie to reveal further background information about the characters through things Miss Maudie says about them, giving us a new perspective.

One example can be seen in the information she relays to Scout concerning Arthur (Boo) Radley. In Chapter 5, author Lee uses Miss Maudie to quiet any rumors and myths surrounding Arthur Radley, particularly those told to the children by Miss Stephanie Crawford such as the notion that Arthur peeks in windows at night. Beyond quieting rumors, Miss Maudie explains that Arthur's father was a foot-washing Baptist, a denomination that interprets the Bible very literally. According to Miss Maudie, "Foot-washers believe anything that's pleasure is a sin" (Ch. 5). Through her account of Arthur's background, Miss Maudie offers a plausible explanation for why Arthur never leaves his house--he has been taught that doing something that would bring him pleasure, such as escaping house arrest, would be sinful. Miss Maudie further quiets rumors about Arthur by stating, "I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how" (Ch. 5). Miss Maudie's revelations about Arthur help paint the picture in the reader's mind that Arthur is a severely misjudged, deeply caring person who is dealing with the struggles of his own personal hardships laid upon him by the beliefs of his father.

A second example of Miss Maudie shedding further light on a character can be seen when Miss Maudie converses with the children about their father the day after the trial. Miss Maudie invites the children to her home for cake with the intention of making the children feel better by helping them see the trial and it's outcome in a more positive light. In so doing, she also sheds light on Atticus's character. Through the many things she says about Atticus, she paints him as a brave man willing to do the right thing when others won't, as one devoted to acting like a true Christian, and as one who is strong and clever enough to be able to influence others. She paints him as a true Christian when she says, "We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us" (Ch. 22). She also paints him as being able to take a stand in doing what's right and being able to influence others when she notes that, as she waited for the Finches to come home from the trial, she thought to herself, "Atticus Finch won't win, he can't win, but he's the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that" (Ch. 22). Prior to Miss Maudie's comments, the reader only primarily sees Atticus through the eyes of his children and the townspeople who ridicule him. Miss Maudie's comments allow the reader to see that other characters recognize Atticus as a brave and noble person.

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