In Harper Les's novel To Kill a Mockingbird Miss Maudie Atkinson is not only a neighbor and friend to the Finch's but also a respectful, passionate, and upright member of Maycomb. Miss Maudie upholds a strong moral code and shares Atticus's passion for justice. As part of her morals she is both respectful of others and passionate about life. Unlike the other women in town Miss Maudie minds her own business and behaves with integrity.
When Stephanie Crawford says, "She woke up in the middle of the night and found [Boo] looking in the window at her" (Lee 45). Miss Maudie defends Boo with a witty remark, "What did you do Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him" (45). This reveals her respectfulness by her unwillingness to tolerate the injustice of Miss Stephanie's words. Miss Maudie shows respect for Boo and has privacy again when Scout inquires about the rumors concerning him. Her sensible answer to Scout is "Arthur Radley just stays in the house, that's all...
Wouldn't you stay in the house if you didn't want to come out" (44)? Miss Maudie's gives respect to the children as well and they in return respect her. Scout herself says "I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. She had never told on us. Had never played cat-and-mouse with us. She was not at all interested in out private lives" (44-45).
Miss Maudie continuously exemplifies strong moral character. One instance is during a missionary circle meeting. One of the ladies comments on how much she dislikes a "sulky darky," and says that when her black female servant complains about something, she reminds her that Jesus never complained. Another lady says that no amount of education will ever make "Christians" out of black people, and says that "There's no lady safe in her bed these nights" (232).
Miss Maudie tersely shows her differing opinion on this topic with a comment to Mrs. Merriwether. 'Maudie I'm not sure what you mean', said Mrs. Merriwether. 'I'm sure you do,' Miss Maudie said shortly. She said no more.
When Miss Maudie was angry her brevity was icy. Something hade made her deeply angry and her gray eyes were as cold as her voice (233). In this circumstance Miss Maudie seems to be the only women to show any appreciation for conscience. She shows her conscience another time on the day of the trial. She realizes that there is a good chance that Tom Robinson will be found guilty and refuses to watch the unfairness. 'You going to court this morning?' asked Jem...
'I am not,' she said. 'I have no business with the court this morning.' 'Aren't you goin' down to watch to watch?' asked Dill 'I am not. 't's morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it's like a Roman carnival' (159).
Miss Maudie's morality is even equal to that of Atticus's. When the children receive air rifles for Christmas Atticus explains to them that it is a sin to shot a mockingbird. Miss Maudie affirms this, saying 'Your father's right. Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncrib's, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird' (90).
She expresses one of the primary moral truths evident in the novel; she gives prominence to life and the need to safeguard it, she values life fundamentally, even if it is that of a bird. Miss Maudie is passionate about many things in her life. One of her most obvious passions is gardening. Miss Maudie hated her house: time spent indoors was time wasted... [Miss Maudie] worked in her flower beds in an old straw hat and men's coveralls... She loved everything that grew in God's earth, even the weeds (42).
When it snows in Maycomb her zeal for gardening is just as pronounced. 'It's [the snow] beautiful, ain't it, Miss Maudie?' 'Beautiful my hind foot! If it freezes tonight it " ll carry off all my azaleas!' ... She was bending over some small bushes, wrapping them in burlap bags. Jem asked her what she was doing that for.
'Keep 'em warm she said,' she said (65). She is so fanatical about her garden that when her house catches fire she tells Jem "Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard. Just think, I'll have more room for my azaleas now" (73)! She also has a passion for baking cakes. She made the best cakes in the neighborhood... every time she made a big cake and three little ones, and she would call across the street: 'Jem Finch, Scout Finch, Charles Barker Harris, come here!' Our promptness was always rewarded (43).
Once again during the drama of her house burning down her enthusiasm for her cakes manifests. "Soon as I can get my hands clean and when Stephanie Crawford's not looking, I'll make a lane cake. That Stephanie's been after my recipe for thirty years" (73). Miss Maudie most all-encompassing passion is her passion for life.
She explains to Scout that some people find her way of life unacceptable. 'Foot washers believe anything that's pleasure is a sin. Did you know some of 'em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me me and my flowers were going to hell' (44)? She also adds "There are just some kind of men who " re so busy worrying about the next world they " ve never learned to live in this one" (45). Through all of Miss Muadie's passions it apparent that she takes much pleasure living in this world. At first glance Miss Maudie of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee seems to be just a sharp-tongued neighbor and old friend of the Finch family. Upon closer examination, though, she provides a significant role in the Maycomb community.
Maudie respects the children, Boo, Atticus, and Tom. Her uprightness helps the children gain perspective on the events surrounding them and her passions make here a kind, cheerful, and trusted friend of those in Maycomb.