Describe the mood of Maycomb in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In literature, the mood of a setting, such as the quaint town of Maycomb, is used to invoke certain feelings and create a specific atmosphere throughout the novel. In Chapter 1, Scout describes Maycomb as being a "tired old town," that was hot enough to wilt men's collars by nine in the morning (Lee 6). Scout goes on to say,

"Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o' clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum" (Lee 6).

She mentions that the people in the town moved slowly, and there was a "vague optimism" in the air. Harper Lee initially creates a mood of a comfortable, easy-going, tradition Southern town. The fact that the town is personified as slow moving, associates with its traditional values and beliefs that are hard to change throughout the novel, particularly regarding race relations. Maycomb is a relatively pleasant place to grow up, with kind neighbors and stable families. In Chapter 13, Scout says,

"New people so rarely settled there, the same families married the same families until the members of the community looked faintly alike. Occasionally someone would return from Montgomery or Mobile with an outsider, but result caused only a ripple in the quiet stream of family resemblance. Things were more or less the same during my early years" (Lee 175).

Again, Lee creates an atmosphere of familiarity throughout the town which resembles the closeness of the community. The mood of Maycomb shifts according to the scenes and events that transpire. In Chapter 15, Maycomb's jail does not have a light outside and is described as hideous looking. The atmosphere created is repulsive and gloomy which correlates with Maycomb's ugly prejudice. The dark mood also applies to the Radley house which is where Boo Radley remains confined throughout the novel. Overall, the mood of Maycomb is light and welcoming, with the exception of the jailhouse and the Radley place.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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