In To Kill a Mockingbird, to behave responsible in 1930’s Maycomb, Alabama, a person needs to rise above the petty racism that was prevalent at that time.
In Maycomb, just like in many areas of the South at that time, the scars of the post-slavery, post-Civil War period had left many people feeling emotionally wounded. In many cases, they took out their frustrations on the African-Americans in their community.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, we see a very sharp distinction between the “responsible” characters, like Atticus and Miss Maudie, and the hate-filled racists like Bob Ewell and many un-named townsfolk.
Atticus and Miss Maudie were able to behave rationally and rise above the temptation to take out their frustrations on people who were more vulnerable than them.