Miss Maudie Atkinson in To Kill a Mockingbird: Description & Quotes

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  • 0:03 The Local Color
  • 0:51 Miss Maudie
  • 1:34 Miss Maudie & Scout
  • 3:13 Significance of Miss Maudie
  • 4:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' features numerous characters that light up the tiny town of Maycomb, Alabama, but few are as memorable as Miss Maudie Atkinson. This lesson explores Miss Maudie's character with a few choice quotes.

The Local Color

Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Maycomb, Alabama, a fictional town in the Deep South. Maycomb is home to quite a lively cast of characters. Several residents of the town embody the perfect Southern gentleman or lady, like Aunt Alexandra. Some are an embarrassment to mankind, like Bob Ewell. Still others carry an air of mystery like the secretive Boo Radley. And then there's Miss Maudie Atkinson.

Through the eyes of Scout Finch, the novel's protagonist, the reader comes to know Miss Maudie Atkinson. As the Finch's across-the-street neighbor, Miss Maudie is present throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, offering Scout, Jem, and Dill friendship, advice, and a very unique worldview.

Miss Maudie

Miss Maudie and the Finch family have a long history. Miss Maudie grew up on Finch's Landing and is roughly the same age as Atticus Finch's younger brother, Jack. She's known Jean Louise (Scout) and Jem Finch since they were babies and knew their deceased mother as well. A lifelong Maycomb County native, Miss Maudie knows who's who and what's what in their sleepy corner of the deep South. Miss Maudie is also a widow.

Miss Maudie very generously lets the Finch children and Dill Harris play in her gardens so long as they do not trample her azaleas. She's well-known for her delicious cakes and very thoughtfully bakes three small versions to share with the kids.

Miss Maudie and Scout

Scout struggles to find her niche in Maycomb. She likes to run around and play with Jem rather than with girls. She hates dresses and has trouble filtering many of the things that pop into her mind, much to the disappointment of their housekeeper Calpurnia and her proper Aunt Alexandra. Unlike other women in her life, Miss Maudie is entirely accepting of Scout and acts as something of a role model for her.

One of Scout's earliest descriptions of Miss Maudie gives the readers insight into the almost double life of Miss Maudie: 'She was a widow, a chameleon lady who worked in her flower beds in an old straw hat and men's coveralls, but after her five o'clock bath she would appear on the porch and reign over the street in magisterial beauty.'

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