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Setting: Alabama, post Civil War, pre Civil Rights Movement.
Attitude: There are many terms to denote this geographic region during this time period. Among them are the "Old South" and the "Bible Belt."
Keeping that in mind, the first prevailing attitude is prejudice based largely on the hatred or fear of something different. This attitude is manifested in several ways.
- Prejudice against black people. Examples: townspeople's reactions to Atticus taking Tom Robinson's trial or Aunt Alexandra's reaction to the kids attending Calpurnia's church.
- Prejudice against poor white people, or "trash." Example: townspeople's reactions to Bob Ewell.
- Prejudice against social outcasts. Example: Miss Stephanie's gossip about the Radleys.
The second most prevalent attitude is the idea of a double standard or an attitude of hypocrisy among, for lack of a better term, high society. This attitude is shown most overtly during Aunt Alexandra's missionary society meeting.
The previous post gave some EXCELLENT examples of how the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird relates to attitudes of the time. Other examples not mentioned include the rights of women during the 1930s. Many of the women in the novel are characterized as unusually quirky. Miss Stephanie (nearly all of the women are referred to as "Miss," a true Southern trait) Crawford's life revolves around gossip; Miss Maudie (who is a widow) apparently has no children and no male suitors; Miss Rachel sneaks liquor each morning, according to Dill. Misses Tutti and Frutti are presented in a short, humorous scene. Women are not allowed to serve on juries, and the ladies of the Missionary Circle have a laugh at the thought of Scout possibly becoming an attorney--women lawyers being practically non-existent in the Deep South during the 1930s.
The small, rural setting of Maycomb also comes into play. There is little to do, people walk rather than drive (and still ride horses and mules), and neighbors grow vegetables in their back yards. People sit on the porch to stay cool, greet their neighbors when they walk by and know everybody's business. Like all Southern towns of the era, the white and black communities are distinctivey separated, and segregation prevails.
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