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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are the descriptions of Miss Maudie's yard, the jail, the courtroom and their dramatic values in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Miss Maudie loves her yard.  She hates her little house, so she spends as much times as she can in her yard. Scout and Jem really liked Miss Maudie and,

"Our tacit treaty with Miss Maudie was that we could play on her lawn, eat her scuppernongs (a type of grape), if we didn't jump on the arbor, and explore her vast backyard, terms so generous we seldom spoke to her, so careful were we to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship...." (pg 42)

She worked in her yard daily, wore an old straw hat and coveralls and if she found a sprig of nut grass in her yard,

"...she swooped down upon it with a tin tub and subjected it to the blasts from beneath with a poisonous substance she said was so powerful it'd kill us all if we didn't stand out of the way." (pg 42)

She really loved her yard. She was even criticized by the "foot-washing Baptists" for having such a beautiful yard.

"Did you know that some of them came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me me and my flowers were going to hell........They thought I spent too much time in God's outdoors and not enough time inside the house reading the Bible." (pg 44)

 In the South, a nice garden was something of pride. It was a great escape for the children.  Even when her house burnt down a little later in the story, Miss Maudie says,

"Why, I'll build me a little house and take me a couple of roomers and--- gracious, I'll have the finest yard in Alabama.  Those Bellingratha'll look plain puny when I get started." (pg 73)

The jailhouse was something else again.  Scout tells us,

"The Maycomb jail was the most venerable and hideous of the county's buildings.....Starkly out of place in a town of square-faced stores and steep-roofed houses, the Maycomb jail was a miniature Gothic joke, one cell wide and two cells high, complete with tiny battlements and flying buttresses.  Its fantasy was heightened by its red brick facade and the thick steel bars on its ecclesiastical windows. It stood on no lonely hilll, but was wedged between Tyndale's Hardware Store and The Maycomb Tribune office." (pg 150)

It did not have lighting on the outside, and Atticus had to run a long extension cord out of the top window so that he could sit in front of the jail and read his newspaper.  That adds to the danger he is in when the mob approaches the jail with the intent of hanging Tom Robinson. 

The courthouse was also an old building.  The courtroom was two stories.  The black people were only allowed to view from the second story.

"The Colored balcony ran along three walls of the courtroom like a second story veranda, and from it we could see everything. The jury sat to the left, under long windows....The circuit solicitor and another man, Atticus and Tom Robinson sat at tables with their backs to us.....Just inside the railing that divided the spectators from the court, the witnesses sat on cowhide-bottomed chairs.  Their backs were to us...Judge Taylor was on the bench...The witness stand was to the right of the judge. (pg 165-166)

This description allows the reader to visualize the scene.  The main event for Tom Robinson, and the reason the Finch family has been going through such turmoil is because of this trial.  It adds a seriousness and an importance to the scene.


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