Why did Aunt Alexandra silently thank Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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During the ladies social in chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra is barely holding it together.  She is worried about her brother Atticus, and is having a hard time with the hypocritical and racist remarks of others.  When Miss Maudie intervenes, she is grateful to have someone on her side.

She says:

“His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?”

This statement outlines the hypocrisy of those who are willing to enjoy Atticus's hospitality and eat his food, even though they talk about him behind his back.

Scout is surprised that Aunt Alexandra could be grateful for anything.  She is puzzled by what her aunt would thank Miss Maudie for.

 

She gave Miss Maudie a look of pure gratitude, and I wondered at the world of women. Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra had never been especially close, and here was Aunty silently thanking her for something. For what, I knew not.

This is an example of Scout not understanding the adult world.  She doesn’t understand how politeness requires Miss Maudie to say what she means to say indirectly, and Alexandra to thank her indirectly.

 

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