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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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“Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard” (Miss Maudie, To Kill a Mockingbird, chapter 8). Explain the context of this quote and what it tells us about Miss Maudie.

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The context of this quote in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is that Miss Maudie speaks this line to Jem after her house is destroyed in a fire.

The day after the fire, Jem and Scout tell Miss Maudie that they are sorry for her loss. Much to their surprise, she does not seem at all sad. She tells them that she has always wanted a smaller house anyway and is happy that she will now be able to extend her garden. She talks excitedly about her plans for her new yard and then asks Scout about her night.

This exchange tells us a great deal about Miss Maudie. She loves nature and prefers to be outdoors whenever possible. She loves her plants and her garden and sees the destruction of her house as an opportunity to create a better, bigger garden.

She is optimistic, resilient, and adaptable. Instead of thinking about what she has lost, she focuses on what she will gain. She does not mourn the tragic loss of her house and her possessions, which tells us that she is not shallow or materialistic. Her garden means more to her than any material items.

This scene also tells us that Miss Maudie is thoughtful and selfless. She just endured a tremendous loss, but rather than feeling sorry for herself, she is sorry for inconveniencing her neighbors and she is eager to hear about Scout’s encounter with Boo Radley the night before.

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