How can I briefly describe the town of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Maycomb is a small, poor town steeped in traditional Southern values.

The story takes place in the deep South in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression.  At that time, there was “nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.”  Scout says that people moved more slowly then, because there was nowhere to go.

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. (ch 1)

She goes on to describe how the town has one main residential street, where the Finches live.  There is also a school with two buildings (grammar-school and high school) behind their street, and on the outskirts of town there is a dump with a settlement of poor whites (the Ewells) and blacks.

Everyone in Maycomb cares about what people think.  Atticus says everyone in the town is a friend and neighbor.  It is a small town where everyone knows everyone else, and the people are very set in their ways.  Unfortunately, this includes a great deal of prejudice toward blacks, the poor, and anyone who is different.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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At the beginning of the novel, Scout gives a description of her hometown of Maycomb. Scout comments that Maycomb is a tired, small, old town where the streets turn to "red slop" when it rains, and buildings seem to sag. She also describes the extremely hot weather that wilts men's collars and makes people move slowly. In Maycomb, everyone takes their time, and a single day seems longer than twenty-four hours. Due to the Great Depression, most of the citizens are broke and have no money to spend or do anything. Harper Lee's town of Maycomb shares elements of Southern Gothic literature. There is a melancholy atmosphere surrounding the old, worn-out town. People are not lively in Maycomb, and the extreme temperatures affect both humans and animals. Interestingly, like the slow movements of the people and relatively old buildings, the town's prejudice and perception of race also remains unchanged. 

As was mentioned in the previous post, there is one main residential road running through town where most of the citizens live. The courthouse is in the center of the town plaza to the north, and the school is at the opposite end of town next to the deer pasture. The Maycomb Tribune, Tyndal's Hardware, Jitney Jungle, the bank, and the post office all surround the courthouse in the plaza. 

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