Writers develop and reveal characters through direct and indirect characterization. With direct characterization, the author tells, or makes statements that express the writer's opinion about the character. With indirect characterization, the author dramatizes the character; that is, he/she reveals character in a number of ways:
- through a physical description
- through the character's actions
- through the character's thoughts, feelings, and speeches
- through the comments and reactions of other characters.
The technique through which the author best develops Miss Maudie Atkinson is #3--through the character's thoughts, feelings, and speeches.
When, for instance, Miss Maudie comes across the street to the Finches' house, having been invited by Aunt Alexandra to join the missionary circle for tea in Chapter 24, she displays her love for Scout in subtle ways. As Miss Stephanie Crawford calls across the room to Scout, asking if she wants to be a lawyer and taunting her with "you've already commenced going to court," Scout narrates,
Miss Maudie's hand touched mine and I answered mildly enough, "Nope, just a lady."
When Miss Stephanie continues,
"Well, you won't get very far until you start wearing dresses more often,"
Miss Maudie's hand closed tightly on mine, and I said nothing. Its warmth was enough.
Miss Maudie is the grandmother the children do not have. With her actions, she clearly demonstrates her love and friendship to Scout. And from her cryptic remarks about Stephanie earlier, Scout already knows what Miss Maudie thinks of Miss Stephanie, so there is no reason for Scout to utter any retort.
Later in the same afternoon, Mrs. Merriweather, a faithful "Methodist" under duress, begins to remonstrate about the "misguided people in this town,
"Gertrude,...she said, "I tell you there are some good, but misguided people in this town."
After this remark, she says that if Sophy, her maid, had been sulky just one more day, she would have let her go. At this point Miss Maudie asks the unsuspecting Mrs. Merriweather,
"His food doesn't stick going down, does it?"
"Maudie, I'm sure I don't know what you mean," said Mrs. Merriweather.
"I'm sure you do," Miss Maudie said softly.
Of course, Miss Maudie jests at Mrs. Merriweather's hypocrisy in her pretending to not understand that Mr. Merriweather can easily enjoy the meal cooked for him by Sophy, but the maid should never complain about how she is treated. Also, the money given to her, even though Mrs. Merriweather seems so concerned about the Africans, is rather inadequate.