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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Who is optimistic in To Kill a Mockingbird, and what causes and results from their optimism?

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Miss Maudie displays optimism throughout the novel. She is a nature-loving, kind, sympathetic individual, who encourages Jem and Scout after the trial. She is a naturally optimistic person who has the unique ability to see the positive side of difficult situations. There are several notable scenes that display Maudie's optimism. When Maudie loses her home to a fire, she does not lament her loss, but rather celebrates the fact that she was able to get rid of her old home and spend more time outdoors. Maudie also sees Atticus' efforts as a small step in the right direction for the community of Maycomb. She encourages Jem to stay positive and even bakes the children cakes to cheer them up. Maudie's optimism is comforting to the children. She is an excellent role model who encourages those around her to remain positive, even in difficult situations. 

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Miss Maudie is one of the most optimistic characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.

     She loved everything that grew in God's earth...  (Chapter 5)

She encourages Scout to be herself when others try to demean her unladylike ways. She refuses to belittle Boo Radley, instead remembering how "He always spoke nicely to me" when he was a boy. She stays incredibly upbeat after her house burns down, promising to rebuild and "have the finest yard in Alabama." But her optimism is best displayed when she tries to comfort Jem and Scout after Atticus loses the Tom Robinson case. She assures them that Atticus is an important figure in Maycomb, a man who was "born to do our unpleasant jobs for us." She won't accept "Jem's fatalistic noises" concerning the trial, reminding him that "we've got Atticus to go for us" when he is needed. Most importantly, she believes that Atticus's defense of Tom is a step forward for the town against the racism that exists.

"... we're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step."  (Chapter 22)

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