Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

How does Miss Maudie support Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Miss Maudie supports Atticus several different ways throughout the novel. In addition to passively declining to engage in conversations directed against Tom Robinson and the African American community, Maudie helps watch over Jem and Scout while Atticus works on his case. She watches the children as they play in her yard, sits on her porch with Scout in the evenings, and even bakes them cakes following the trial. After the trial is over, Miss Maudie continues to support Atticus by encouraging his children. She explains to Jem the importance of Atticus' job, which is to take a stand against ignorance. In Chapter 24, Miss Maudie also defends Atticus during Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle. Miss Maudie subtly chastises Mrs. Merriweather, who was indirectly criticizing Atticus for defending an African American. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While Miss Maudie may not out right say she supports Atticus, it is through interactions with his children that her support is shown. One of her biggest signs of respect, is how she tells Scout and Jem how their father is a rare person who is the same on the streets as he is in the home. This shows how she supports his personal integrity that many other people did not have. 

When Tom Robinson dies, Miss Maudie talks to Jem and Scout:

. . . there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them . . . . We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us.

This demonstrates her support of his moral strength and attitude. This is the specific reason he was chosen for this case. So, Miss Maudie shows her support of Atticus by affirming his actions and the man he is to his children. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Miss Maudie is portrayed as a candid, morally-upright woman who supports Atticus and the concept of equality. Unlike the majority of her prejudiced neighbors, Miss Maudie silently supports Atticus. Although she does not attend the Tom Robinson trial, Miss Maudie supports Atticus by offering Jem and Scout words of encouragement following Tom's wrongful conviction. Despite Tom's conviction, Maudie believes that the prejudiced community took a small step towards racial equality.

In chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra hosts the missionary circle at Atticus's home, and the local ladies visit and socialize with each other. Alexandra forces Scout to participate in the gathering, and Scout tries to remain calm in the presence of the outspoken local ladies. During the missionary circle, Miss Merriweather demonstrates her hypocritical nature by openly criticizing Atticus for his defense of Tom Robinson. Mrs. Merriweather refers to Atticus as a "good but misguided" person who did nothing but stir up Maycomb's black population. After Mrs. Merriweather criticizes Atticus, Miss Maudie stands up for him by briefly asking,

His food doesn’t stick going down, does it? (237)

Maudie's comment subtly chastises Mrs. Merriweather for criticizing a man who has graciously opened his house to her. Maudie successfully influences Mrs. Merriweather to drop the subject. Scout then notices Aunt Alexandra give Maudie a look of pure gratitude and wonders at the "world of women." Overall, Miss Maudie stands up for Atticus during the missionary circle by calling out Mrs. Merriweather for being insensitive, inappropriate, and ungrateful.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team