In To Kill a Mockingbird, what part of the body could be used to symbolize Miss Maudie?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another body part that represents Miss Maudie could be hands, or her hands specifically. Miss Maudie's love for working with her garden calls attention to her hands, which she uses to nurture her plants; her care of her garden parallels the care and affection she shows towards Jem and Scout throughout the novel. As well, it could be argued that Miss Maudie understands power that is symbolized by her hands, as hands can harm and hurt as much as they can stroke.

Miss Maudie is an admirable female role model for Scout, as she is clever and warm, but opinionated all the same. These personality characteristics can all be discussed within the context of the symbol of hands.

Hands that garden are nimble and careful, and they know how to weed and pluck sensitively so that the invasive weeds do not choke the flowers, for example. Miss Maudie's hands are just these kind of instruments, as she is not at all a clumsy person, neither with her hands nor with her words.

Hands that stroke and touch with affection are soothing and warm, and they know how to look after vulnerable people, like the motherless Jem and Scout and the man on trial for his life, Tom Robinson. Miss Maudie articulates her concern for all three of these members of her community throughout the novel.

Hands that are strong can hurt others, but Miss Maudie uses her strength for good. The potential power of her hands represents the strength of her personality and her values, which teach Scout the importance of being open-minded and respectful of others.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the body part that best represents Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird would have to be her false teeth--her bridgework. Miss Maudie has

... two minute prongs clipped to her eyeteeth...

which Scout loves to see removed from her mouth. Scout "admired them" so much that she hopes to have a pair herself one day. Miss Maudie seems to understand this, and

With a click of her tongue she thrust out her bridgework, a gesture of cordiality that cemented our friendship.

The teeth not only symbolize Maudie's independent and sometimes eccentric behavior, but they also serve to show the words of wisdom that she often presents in the form of advice to Jem and Scout. Like Atticus, she answers the children's questions truthfully; unlike Miss Stephanie, she never resorts to gossip. She faithfully defends Atticus and explains to Jem and Scout why he is the most important man in all of Maycomb.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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