This story takes place in the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small town with a clear-cut social structure. There are those who work in professional occupations, such as Atticus, those who are self-reliant farmers, such as the Cunninghams, those who live off of others' charity, such as Bob Ewell, and the blacks who live in an area called the Quarters, just outside of town.
The setting is very important because it sets up the major conflict in the plot: Atticus must defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. Most of the two will eventually believe the black man's story, as the chief witness for the State is Bob Ewell, a drunkard and unreliable source for information. However, they are unwilling to vote their conscience in the jury room when it counts, as they are not ready to publicly accept the word of a black man over that of a white person, even when that white person is held in such low regard.