What quote sums up Miss Maudie's reaction to Tom Robinson's verdict in Chapter 22 of To Kill A Mockingbird?

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One of the best quotes that sums up Miss Maudie's reaction to Tom Robinson's verdict is when she says,

I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, 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. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.

Although the jury's decision saddens Miss Maudie, it does not surprise her. As a pragmatist, she always knew Tom Robinson stood little chance of prevailing in the court of public opinion, but she notes that Judge Taylor's decision to name Atticus as Tom's defense lawyer was no accident. Atticus was specially chosen for the job because he was the only one who could argue a strong case for Tom's innocence.

Although Atticus fails to clear Tom's name, he manages to draw attention to the injustices the black community faces on a daily basis (a very important accomplishment on Atticus's part). During the trial, Atticus skillfully exposes to the jury and courtroom audience Bob Ewell's ugly attitudes about race. Prior to this, Maycomb has never candidly discussed the prevalence of bias within its communities in such a public setting. This is possibly what Miss Maudie refers to when she rejoices in the "baby step" Maycomb takes on the day of the trial.

Miss Maudie thinks things are actually going in the right direction. Atticus's work inspires an ongoing conversation about race and bias:

“We’re the safest folks in the world,” said Miss Maudie. “We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us."

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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