In the opening chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout as the narrator describes Maycomb as "a tired old town" in which
People moved slowly then....There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County....
In the midst of the Great Depression, then, the trial becomes "a gala occasion," one which involves many people and a controversial issue that is sure to cause excitement and generate interest. The trial of a black man for rape against a white woman in this era is an event that promises a hanging, and a hanging is always an important occasion and a social event, bringing together the folks from out in the country, Mennonites and Fundamentalists, with their provisions for the day as the blacks sit in a far corner of the town square.
Miss Maudie, however, is repulsed by the curiosity seekers. When Dill asks if she is going to watch, she remarks that watching the trial is a "morbid" affair much like the Roman carnivals; that is, a time in which people overstep the bounds of decorum.