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What do we learn about the life and inhabitants of Maycomb in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'?

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Introduction

What do we learn about the life and inhabitants of Maycomb in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'? Harper Lee, the American author grew up in the town of Monroeville, Alabama in the depression of the 1930s. The town has physically changed little since the thirties; many original buildings such as the courthouse and jailhouse still stand. However, these buildings are no longer used for their original purposes - the have become tourist attractions, viewed by visitors from across the world. But why do these people choose to visit Monroeville? The answer lies in a book, Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. This is an account of a childhood in 'Maycomb,' a thinly disguised Monroeville, told from the point of view of Jean-Louse Finch. The book was written in the early 1960's and is divided into two parts, the first of which gives an overall view of the community, and the second concentrates on a court case, in which many members of the community show their true prejudices towards the black community. Prejudice is very apparent within Maycomb, although it is not only the obvious racial prejudice. ...read more.

Middle

Although the evidence suggests that Tom Robinson is innocent, the entire jury finds him guilty. Bob Ewell, despite the being seen as no better than dirt, is still believed and respected more than Tom Robinson. A similar contrast is found between another two families, the Finch family, and Dill's family, the Harris family. The Depression has not affected these as much as the Ewells and Cunninghams, and they are probably two of the most wealthy families in the story. However, the contrast occurs in the parent/child relationships. As a family, the Finches are very close. There are very few points in the story where there is any friction between Atticus and the children, and mainly they work together. Dill is solitary, a 'pocket Merlin' who is independent from his family. He likes the Finch household due to the relaxed atmosphere and the obvious love between Atticus and the children. Two of the most important characters in the novel are the adults that the children learn from throughout. These are Jem and Scout's father, lawyer Atticus, and their household servant, the black Calpurnia. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the important parts of the backdrop to the story is the history of Maycomb itself. As with many of the southern states, less than a century before the story is set, black Africans were brought to the area as slaves. Even after they were freed, many people regarded black people as inferior or subhuman. There were also other problems for the freed slaves and their descendants. They were forced to find employment as servants and many were badly treated and paid very little. However, there were no alternatives, so black people had to continue living as slaves to receive any income. Overall, 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' presents a realistic and poignant view of a Southern American town during the years of the depression. The child's view gives an innocent and mainly unbiased view of events and characters, and emphasises the obvious prejudices and injustices occurring due to the colour of a person's skin, the social class of their parents, their education, or their ideologies, beliefs or principles. The underlying message from the story can be indicated in on sentence, said by Dolphus Raymond while contemplating the trial of Tom Robinson, 'Cry about the simple hell people give ... folks, without even thinking that they're people too.' ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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