A widow (formerly married to a man named Atkinson), Miss Maudie is probably the most independent women in To Kill a Mockingbird, living in her big house and tending to her precious garden. When her house burns down, she tells Scout that she
"... hated that old cow barn. Thought about settin' fire to it a hundred times myself, except they'd lock me up."
She is worried more about the other houses in the neighborhood going up in flames, and she plans on rebuilding a smaller house, so she will have more room for her plants outside. One of her greatest desires is ridding her yard of nut grass, which she likens to "an Old Testament pestilence." She has great faith in Atticus, who she claims is a man who was "born to do our unpleasant jobs for us." She assures Jem that the people of Maycomb are
"... the safest folks in the world... We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us."
Maudie hopes that Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson, and how long he is able to keep the jury deliberating, will be a "baby step" for Maycomb's race relations.