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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what do you learn about the town itself and the way of life of its inhabitants in this novel?

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Introduction

In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee tells the story of children growing up in a southern town, but also creates a vivid picture of the town itself and its inhabitants. What do you learn about the town itself and the way of life of its inhabitants in this novel? Maycomb is in Albama in the southern United States. "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it." This is a description of Maycomb given by Scout in the first chapter of the novel. Later Scout goes on to say "There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with." This suggests that Maycomb is an old town that has been hit hard by the depression. Another suggestion of this is "The Cunningham's are country folks, farmers and the crash hit them the hardest." This also suggests that a lot of farming is done in the area and one the reasons why the crash hit the area so badly. The depression was mainly caused by the Wall Street stock market crash in 1929. It was also caused by US producers over producing their products this led to high unemployment rates, poverty and near starvation for millions of people. There was too much supply and not enough demand world-wide. US farmers couldn't afford to buy because they couldn't sell their own produce. ...read more.

Middle

Atticus's opinions could be quite controversial as he believes that black people shouldn't be looked down upon and this is proved by him defending Tom Robinson in the court case and saying to Scout that "every lawyer had one case that affected them personally" and that this was his. He believes that he had to defend Tom Robinson because he believed him to be innocent and that "before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority is a person's conscience." This shows that even though Atticus knows he will probably lose the court case, he is still going to defend Tom because he thinks it's the right thing to do and that he couldn't bear to have the fact he should have defended Tom but didn't on his conscience. Throughout the book Atticus also shows a great understanding of human behaviour, which makes his guidance role to his children even greater. Miss Maudie does challenge the attitude of social snobbery declaring that true background is decided by a person's moral wealth. This isn't defined at any one point but in various situations throughout the novel. She has also no time for hypocrisy, she dislikes Mrs Merriweather for criticising Atticus, and Stephanie Crawford for spreading rumours about Boo Radley. She was also critical of religious groups who clain to be Christian but whose behaviour to others shows prejudice and lack of humanity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Atticus's sister, Aunt Alexandra, is the perfect example of what women should behave like in the Southern States at the time of the novel. She is in charge of holding the missionary meetings and is the secretary of the Amanuensis Club. This shows she is an upstanding member of the community. She also has great dignity and self control which were desirable traits in women at that time. Dolphus Raymond also teaches us something about the town. Mr Raymond lives with a black woman and has mixed coloured children. Everyone in the town believes him to be a drunkard because he drinks out of a bottle in a brown paper bag. The bottle inside the bag turns out to contain coca - cola but he lets everyone think he is a drunkard so that they can blame his unacceptable behaviour on it. He feels that the people living in Maycomb need to think that he can't change his way of life, and they are unable to understand that he doesn't want to. The townspeople believe that no normal person would live with a person who has different colour of skin as the Raymonds do. We learn a great deal about the town but the major thing we do learn is that it is stuck in age-old beliefs. Beliefs that white people are superior to black people, that women should behave and act in certain ways and that if someone goes against what is believed to be normal the citizens frown upon it. ...read more.

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