Who is Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Maudie Atkinson is one of the primary characters in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. She lives alone across the street from Atticus Finch and his family. Miss Maudie speaks what she thinks plainly and without fuss, and she talks to Scout, Dill, and Jem as if they are her equals. 

Miss Maudie is the one who reveals many things about Atticus and his character to his children (who seem to think he is nothing but an "old fuddy duddy" who is boring and average in every way). She pays Atticus the highest compliment by saying he is the same in his home as he is on the street, though Scout does not really understand what that means. When Scout talks with Miss Maudie about the trial, the older woman again pays tribute to Aticus's character:

Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple.

Miss Maudie serves as a kind of chorus to Atticus, reinforcing his beliefs. She agrees with Atticus that

mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Miss Maudie is her own woman and does only what her conscience tells her to do. She is hard on those who hypocritically use religion to oppress others (such as the "foot-washin' Baptists" who routinely deride her for enjoying her flower garden or the missionary circle who has empathy for the plight of far-away black people but no tolerance at all for those in their own town), but she is also a lady. Scout goes to Miss Maudie when she is feeling left out by the boys, and Miss Maudie never condemns her for being such a tomboy.

Scout does not have a mother, but she is blessed to have Miss Maudie in her life to serve as a mentor and confidante. 

user9618419 | Student

Miss Maudie Atkinson is one of the Finch's neighbors. She bakes cakes, grows azaleas and tells the children the truth about Boo Radley. Her house is burnt down midway though the book. She's a forthright speaker and affirms that to kill a mockingbird is a sin because all they do is "sing their hearts out for us to hear". Miss Maudie is Scout's neighbor and also one of Scout's primary female models.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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