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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

THE STORY

PART ONE

CHAPTER 5

As the summer goes on, Jem and Dill become inseparable buddies. For the first time, Scout feels left out because she is a girl. In reaction, she forms a special friendship with Miss Maudie, a widowed lady who lives next door.

Miss Maudie, you are told, hates her house and so spends as much time as possible working outdoors in her garden. A kind, gentle person, she tries to make Scout see that Boo Radley is a real human being who deserves her sympathy. Miss Maudie suggests that Boo Radley's fear of leaving the house may have something to do with his father's too strict views on religion. She compares Mr. Radley to a certain sect of Baptists who think that it is sinful to enjoy any form of beauty, even a lovely garden. And she adds that these same Baptists believe that women are a source of evil and temptation.

Miss Maudie also makes fun of Miss Stephanie Crawford, the neighborhood gossip. Miss Stephanie claims that she has caught Boo Radley peeping in her bedroom window late at night. When Miss Maudie heard this tale, she immediately asked, "what did you do, Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him?"


The humor in this chapter comes from the fact that Miss Maudie's remarks about sex go right over Scout's head. Scout has no idea that Miss Maudie was accusing Miss Stephanie of being sex-starved. Bewildered, she concludes that Miss Stephanie's reaction to the comment must have had something to do with Miss Maudie's loud, booming voice.

In the meantime, the author has used Miss Maudie's opinions to give you a point of view that would never occur to Scout, perhaps not even to her father, Atticus: A lot of the unpleasantness in the world may have something to do with the belief that sexual pleasure is always sinful. When people become afraid of facing their own feelings about sex, their fear sometimes spills over into a suspicion of anything that is unfamiliar or different.

At this point in the story, you may feel that Miss Maudie's opinions come out of nowhere. You certainly haven't heard anything to connect Boo Radley's strangeness with anything having to do with sex. Later, however, you may have occasion to remember Miss Maudie's comments- when the subject of rape comes up in a context that has nothing to do with Boo Radley.  

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