What do we learn about Maycomb, Atticus Finch and his family in Chapter one of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In chapter 1, Scout gives a brief description of her family's history and describes the small, tired town of Maycomb, Alabama. Scout begins by mentioning that her ancestor Simon Finch initially emigrated from England and established a small homestead with the help of several slaves on the banks of the Alabama River. Simon's homestead was named Finch's Landing, and it flourished until the Civil War, which left Simon's decedents stripped of his wealth and fortune. Atticus and his family grew up on Finch's Landing, and Atticus ended up studying law in Montgomery, Alabama. Atticus's younger brother, John Hale Finch, traveled to Boston to practice medicine, while their sister, Alexandra, remained on the homestead with her husband. Scout also mentions that her father practices law in Maycomb and helped pay for his brother's post-secondary education. Scout's family lives on the main residential street in town with their African American cook, Calpurnia. Scout also mentions that she is almost six years old and that her older brother, Jem, is nearly ten years old at the beginning of the story.

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"Maycomb was a tired old town then."

This chapter paints a picture of Maycomb to help us imagine the 30s during the Depression. People moved slow, the heat of the era brought grew beads of sweat to their brows, women walked around in great dresses and men who weren't working did the same. Lee references FDR's "nothing to fear but fear itself."

Atticus is painted as a professional. We learn that he put his own brother through medical school, and that their family has great history in Alabama. An attorney by trade, he treats his children with "courteous detachment."  Scout refers to him by his first name. We learn his wife died and was 15 years younger than him. He is now raising his two children, Jem (10) and Scout (almost 6) with the help of their nanny, Calpurnia.

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