In Chapter One what does the reader learn about Maycomb, Atticus Finch, and his family?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In the first chapter, the reader learns that Maycomb is a small town in Alabama, the county seat of Maycomb County. It is described as a "tired old town," where people moved slowly, "for there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with." Lee devotes the second half of the chapter to introducing Boo Radley and his house, both of which are regarded by Jem and Scout with a combination of terror and morbid curiosity. The chapter hints at the extremely tightly-knit social fabric of the town, which the Radleys have placed themselves outside of by refusing to go to church or participate in other public activities. However, we also learn a considerable amount about Atticus. He is described as an educated man, an attorney who has also served in the state legislature. However, despite his education, he is "Maycomb County born and bred," and is "related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town." His wife passed away from a heart attack shortly after giving birth to Scout, leaving Atticus alone to raise the two children. Scout says that the two nevertheless "found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to use, and treated us with courteous detachment." The fourth member of the household, however, the cook Calpurnia, is described as a "tyrannical presence." 

Source: Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (New York: Warner Books, 1960).


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