What does Miss Maudie mean when she says "Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets" in Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Maudie is saying Atticus is a good person who doesn’t hide anything. Some people pretend to be good people, or harass other people with their supposed values, when they are really hypocrites. This is why Miss Maudie does not like the people she calls “foot-washing Baptists,” because they accuse her of being sinful for having beautiful flowers.

When discussing the Radleys, Miss Maudie also says she is not sure what went on behind the closed doors of their house to make Boo Radley behave so strangely.

Miss Maudie shook her head. “If he’s not he should be by now. The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets-” (Chapter 5) 

Scout protests that Atticus would never do anything to them in the house that he would not also do in the streets, and that is why Miss Maudie tells Scout her father is the same on the streets as in the house. He has nothing to hide. He does not present a façade to the world. With Atticus Finch, what you see is what you get.

Atticus is definitely not perfect, but he is a good father and role model. He shows his children that he cares. He tells them to treat others well, and he also treats people well regardless of their skin color or class. Atticus has integrity, which is why when is assigned the Robinson case he tries his best to win even if it seems impossible.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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