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The cakes Miss Maudie bakes for the children certainly reflect her character and symbolize her relationship with the children. Her usual habit was to bake a big cake and three little ones, individual treats for Jem, Scout, and Dill. One day after Tom Robinson's conviction, she called the children over for cake. This time there was one big cake and two little ones. Scout thought at first Miss Maudie had forgotten to make a cake for Dill. She soon understood, though, when Miss Maudie cut a piece from the big cake and gave it to Jem.
With this simple act, Miss Maudie recognized that Jem was growing up and communicated that to him. Tom Robinson's conviction had hit Jem hard; this experience with adult reality had left him angry, confused, and sad. Giving him a piece of the "grown-up" cake shows how perceptive Miss Maudie is and how closely attuned she is to the children's feelings. It also shows that she had put some thought and effort into making Jem feel better. Miss Maudie is a sensitive, loving woman, an adult who actually understands children and respects them.
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