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How influential is the setting of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' to the novel's plot characters and themes?

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Introduction

How influential is the setting of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' to the novel's plot characters and themes? 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is set in Maycomb, Alabama in the Southern states of America in the 1930s. The community of Maycomb is close knit, everybody knows everything about everybody else and most people have the same beliefs and values. A common belief in Maycomb is that the black community are not equal to the white. Racism was common in the Southern states at this time. It came about because Negroes who had been working as slaves carried on living in America after slavery was abolished. White people still regarded the black people as servants and resented their freedom. The Wall Street crash of 1929 sent the country in to an economic depression. The effects of the Depression are clear in the novel, there are many examples of poverty. The ideas of the stereotypical male and female were around at this time. Several characters in the book refusing to conform to the stereotype are put under pressure by members of the community to do so. Racism is an important theme in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Even those who are not racist accept racism as part of everyday life. 'Everybody says Nigger.' This shows that scout has heard the word used at school and assumed that because other people use it, it is not wrong. ...read more.

Middle

I could not hope to be a lady if I wore breeches.' Scout is more influenced by Jem's pressure than from Aunt Alexandra's. Perhaps Scout gets this idea of not letting her gender decide her activities and dress from Atticus. It doesn't please Scout and Jem that their Father is not like the Fathers of the other children at school. 'Atticus was feeble.' Scout and Jem believe that the only admirable qualities that a person can have are physical. Atticus has no interest in shooting and doesn't play football with the other Fathers. I think Atticus's refusal to conform to the male stereotype shows Jem and Scout that non-physical ability is just as admirable as physical ability. Another example of sexism in the book is the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom claimed that Mayella Ewell tried to kiss him. Perhaps another reason that the jury did not take Tom Robinson's side is that they couldn't believe that a woman would attack a man. The fact that there would have been no women on the jury would back this up. It is quite obvious that poverty is a problem in Maycomb. 'Nothing to buy and no money to buy it with' this is how the introduction to the book describes the poverty. The Finches are not badly affected by poverty compared to some of the families that we learn about in the book. ...read more.

Conclusion

The setting of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is also important to the characters. Their beliefs and values are typical of the time and place. If the characters were living in Southampton in the year 2001 their lives would be very different. Because they would belong to different social classes according to the amount of money that they earn, in a large area like Southampton it is unlikely they would no each other well if at all. Maycomb is a much safer place to live than Southampton. Living in Southampton Jem and Scout might not be so trusting in people and curious about places they don't know. The plot of Boo Radley would also be different if it was taking place in Southampton in the year 2001. The rumours about him would not be so widely spread and would seem less important because the characters would have a lot of other thing to occupy their minds. Most of the Plots, characters and themes of the book are dependent on the setting but is there anything that would be the same if the book was set in Southampton in the year 2001. I think that the character of Atticus would be the same. Atticus is not racist. He forms his own opinions instead of agreeing with what everybody else thinks. Because he has an open mind I think his character would be the same whatever the setting. ...read more.

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