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Literature: To Kill a Mockingbird

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In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee the main setting of
Maycomb County, a southern American county is of great importance to the novel.
Maycomb defines the actions people take. It is the kind of town where you expect
this kind of prejudice, divisions and narrow-mindedness to take place. The novel
is set in the 1930’s. The world situation is one of strife and hardship
because of the Great Depression. This trouble and difficulty had spread to
America and slowly bleed into Maycomb County, where the depressed economy made
it hard for the townspeople to make ends meet. Most of Maycomb’s farming
community was out of the job. Scout best sums up the situation faced by Maycomb
County with the words, ‘There was no hurry because there was nowhere to go,
nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the
boundaries of Maycomb County.’ The previous quote also indicates the extent of
how poor the Maycomb community is. That not may people have travelled outside
Maycomb to see the rest of the world because they did not have enough money.
This leads to a narrow-minded community. ‘Maycomb had recently been told it
has nothing to fear but to fear itself,” this quote further shows prevalence
of narrow-mindedness amongst the community. Their views have not been changed
over time the just believe what their ancestor believed. ‘You might hear some
ugly talk about it (Atticus’ case), but do one thing for me if you will: you
just hold your head high and keep those fists down,’ Atticus tells Scout. This
is an example of the narrow-mindedness of the town, as they take their anger, of
Atticus defending Tom Robinson, out on Scout. For example, even Scout’s cousin
calls Atticus a ‘nigger lover’ and takes his families anger of Atticus’
case out on Scout. This narrow-mindedness in a community as small a Maycomb
leads to divisions and prejudice. The main division and prejudice is between the
blacks and the whites. For example when Lula confronts Calpurnia, “ You
ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here-they got their church, we
got our’n.” This shows the prejudice from the blacks to whites. This is a
small part of the division and prejudice between the blacks and whites. The
prejudice from the whites to the blacks is enormous. In the novel, the main
prejudice is from most of the white community, to mainly Tom Robinson and the
rest of the black community. The blacks were frequently referred to as
‘niggers’ and ‘trash’ There are also economic divisions and prejudice,
which take place because of the setting. The division in the novel is mainly
between the whole town and the Ewells. “No economic fluctuations changed their
status- people like the Ewells lived as guests of the country in prosperity as
well as in the depths of a depression,” this is an example of many people not
liking the Ewells because of their lazy attitude and economic position.
Furthermore, the social division and prejudice is a main part of the novel.
“There’s four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like
us and the neighbours, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods,
the kind like the Ewells down at the dump and the Negroes. The blacks are still
held below everybody but this shows the social barriers that exist amongst the
people in Maycomb. In conclusion, the southern setting of Maycomb County acts a
backbone for the novel. Without it most of the events would not be relevant or
even not exist. The black and white division and prejudice would not be as
strong. Being a poor community Maycomb had narrow-minded views; this will cease
to exist if Maycomb was a city centre. That is why I feel Maycomb, as a setting,
is of such an immense importance to the novel.
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