The phrase "Stark raving mad" is used by Atticus to describe the way some people react when anything involving a Negro is concerned.Scout refers to the madness as "Maycomb Disease." Some of them...

The phrase "Stark raving mad" is used by Atticus to describe the way some people react when anything involving a Negro is concerned.

Scout refers to the madness as "Maycomb Disease." Some of them include anger brought on by the loss of temper; another is insanity caused by psychological disorders; a third is a form of blindness caused by prejudice; and lastly, there is fear created out of emotionally upsetting situations. Find examples of each in the text. Which definition do they support?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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    There are many examples of the "stark raving madness" that Scout refers to as "Maycomb Disease" in the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Below are some examples.

TEMPER.  This is the most common example of Maycomb disease. Bob Ewell's spitting or Scout's fights on the playground come from the hot-tempered insult and the resulting reaction. Other examples include the talk overheard by Jem and Scout as the locals head to the courtroom for the beginning of the Tom Robinson trial.

PSYCHOLOGICAL.  Perhaps the best example of this comes when Bob Ewell attempts to avenge Atticus's treatment of him and his daughter on the witness stand by killing the Finch children. Ewell is undoubtedly drunk but he is driven by an unquenchable desire to get "the other two" Finches. Although no blacks are involved personally, the attack stems from the after-effects of the Tom Robinson trial.

PREJUDICIAL BLINDNESS.  Surely the final verdict by the jury in the Tom Robinson trial would fit under this term. Atticus has proven that Tom could not have struck Mayella on the right side of her face nor strangled her with both hands. Yet, the jury convicts, as Atticus knew they would.

EMOTIONAL FEAR.  The near lynching of Tom Robinson by Walter Cunningham Sr. and his friends who gather at the jail can best be categorized by this fear. The group of men are relatively calm, and their motive is to hang Tom out of the fear that the court will not do so. Another example would be the missionary circle talk in which the women profess their fears concerning the local Negroes and how the trial will "stir 'em up."

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