Setting Quotes In To Kill A Mockingbird

What are some quotes that describe key settings in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Historical setting, community setting, examples of the Finch house.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Historical Setting

In the first chapter, Scout alludes to her ancestor Simon Finch, who profited from the loss of large tract of land by the Creek Indians who were moved to another state. "If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama . . . " (Ch.1)

There are several allusions to the Great Depression of the 1930's which is the backdrop of the setting of Lee's novel. Scout narrates that when her father began his law practice in Maycomb, during his first five years, "Atticus practiced economy more than anything" (Ch.1).

Further, Scout describes the era in which she lives, and she repeats the famous words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States during the Great Depression:

There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with . . . But it was a time of vague optimism for some people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had "nothing to fear but fear itself."

Community Setting

Like so many Southern towns of its era, Maycomb has its courthouse on a square where there are several other offices and businesses. Atticus's office used to be in the courthouse when he first began practicing law, but now he has his office in a quieter location inside the Maycomb Bank building.

On the night before the trial, Jem becomes worried because he has heard Atticus take the car to his office when he usually walks. So, when Atticus does not return at a customary time, Jem decides to try to find his father; Scout and Dill insist on accompanying him. They check at the office, but Atticus is not there. Then they see Atticus sitting under the single light bulb at the jail.

The Maycomb jail was the most venerable and hideous of the county’s buildings. . . . Starkly out of place in a town of square-faced stores and steep-roofed houses, the Maycomb jail was a miniature Gothic joke one cell wide and two cells high, complete with tiny battlements and flying buttresses.

Mr. Underwood has his newspaper office in a building close to the jail. He lives above his office and can look out to the jail. On the night that the mob approaches Atticus, Mr. Underwood watches from his window.

The Finch House

The Finches have a fairly comfortable home with rooms that have fireplaces. Like most homes in the South, there is no basement because the earth has a great deal of clay in it. This clay absorbs water, then dries, causing expansions and retraction that strain walls of any kind. The house is set upon stone blocks and has front and back porches. It is on the screened back porch that Jem and Scout sleep in the summertime. They enjoy the cooler air night often brings. On the front porch, as on many other porches, there is a swing. There is also a treehouse in the backyard. 

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

HISTORICAL SETTING.  Maycomb was 20 miles east of Finch's Landing, and it's location was "awkwardly inland for such an old town." It was built around Sinkfield Tavern, whose owner bribed a team of surveyors to

... adjust the center of the county to meet his requirements.

Though Maycomb could brag about its "solid buildings, courthouse proud" and its wide streets,

... the ultimate wisdom of Sinkfield's maneuver is open to question. He placed the young town too far away from the only kind of public transportation in those days--river-boat--and... As a result the town remained the same size for a hundred years, an island in a patchwork sea of cottonfields and timberland. 

COMMUNITY SETTING.  The town in which the Finches live, Maycomb, is the county seat of Maycomb County. It is located in southern Alabama, near the Alabama River.

     Maycomb was an old town... a tired old town... In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square...
... There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. 

Most of the town's business are located across from the courthouse square.

THE FINCH HOUSE.  "We lived on the main residential street in town," though it is never specifically named. The Finch house is located three doors north of the Radley Place, which borders the elementary and high schools. Scout's home has a separate "car house" and a treehouse in the back yard. It has four bedrooms, with fireplaces in each room. Miss Rachel Haverford is their next door neighbor to the north, and Miss Stephanie Crawford and Miss Maudie Atkinson live across the street. The house is located about 10 houses south of the courthouse square. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question