Why does Miss Maudie complain about the people of Maycomb being like a "Roman carnival" on the day of the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For most of the townspeople of Maycomb, the trial of Tom Robinson was like a holiday, and it seemed to Scout like the entire county had made its way to see the proceedings. A circus-like atmosphere took over the town as wagonloads of people headed to picnic at the courthouse square, while others on horseback (and even by mule) filled the "public hitching post" to capacity. Scout thought "It was a gala occasion," but Miss Maudie didn't agree. She was ashamed of the "Roman carnival" decadence created by people who had flocked to witness the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Maudie recognized it as a matter of life and death, and she considered it

"... morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life." (Chapter 16)

Although Scout reminded her that the trial had to be open to the public, the ever-independent Maudie assured her that

"Just because it's public, I don't have to go, do it?"  (Chapter 16) 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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