What does the reader learn about the town from the fire at Miss Maudie's house?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite the racial divisions and the class divisions in Maycomb, the way that the people rally to Miss Maudie's aid during the fire does show a good sense of community, bravery, and compassion for a fellow citizen. Mr. Avery shows particular bravery. (Note the similarity between his name and "bravery.") The Maycomb fire truck will not start, so it has to be pushed to Miss Maudie's house. The Abbottsville firemen also come to help. Note also that Atticus wakes Scout up at one in the morning to get out of the house. The people fighting the fire stay until dawn. A third fire truck is also summoned to help:

It was dawn before the men began to leave, first one by one, then in groups. They pushed the Maycomb fire truck back to town, the Abbottsville truck departed, the third one remained. We found out next day it had come from Clark’s Ferry, sixty miles away.

So, the reader learns that in spite of the racial and social problems in Maycomb, when someone needs help, people near and far will come to give it. We also learn how optimistic Miss Maudie is:

Don’t you worry about me, Jean Louise Finch. There are ways of doing things you don’t know about. Why, I’ll build me a little house and take me a couple of roomers and—gracious, I’ll have the finest yard in Alabama. Those Bellingraths’ll look plain puny when I get started!

Miss Maudie also shows how thoughtful she is. Even at a time when she's lost everything, she is not thinking of herself. Scout adds:

Miss Maudie puzzled me. With most of her possessions gone and her beloved yard a shambles, she still took a lively and cordial interest in Jem’s and my affairs.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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