What does the quote "in rainy weather, streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square" suggest about Maycomb's society in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

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

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Like the town itself, the people of Maycomb are slow to accept change. It is an old town, isolated by its distance from the main river traffic of the era, and most of the townspeople are descendants from the first families. Maycomb has not yet accepted the modern ways of the 20th century. The town has not invested in paved roads or sidewalks, thus the appearance of red "slop" after a rain and the grass growing on the presumably dirt sidewalks. The courthouse sags because of its age and because it was only partially repaired after an earlier fire. The town is not prepared for emergencies like a fire, and when the town's only firetruck is brought to the scene of Miss Maudie's house fire, it does not function properly. In Maycomb, during the depths of the Great Depression, there is a fear of the unknown and of things outside the area.

There was no hurry... nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. (Chapter1)

But the people of Maycomb had been offered a new hope from a new president, and

... it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people [who] had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.  (Chapter 1) 

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Maycomb is an old, poor town that is slow to accept change. Maycomb is a rather secluded, tired town and much of its infrastructure is dilapidated and rundown. Scout describes Maycomb as having muddy streets during rainy weather, cracked sidewalks, and a courthouse that seems to sag. Scout's description of Maycomb creates a melancholy atmosphere which alludes to the ugly prejudice that is prevalent throughout the community. The fact that Maycomb does not have updated facilities, roads, and sidewalks illuminates the effects of the Depression and a lack of social progress. The decaying town of Maycomb suggests that its society is also backward and stagnant. Citizens of Maycomb feel comfortable living as they have for generations and do not value change. Their close-minded views create the conflict throughout the story as Atticus Finch takes the unpopular stance of defending an African American in court. 

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