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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is set in Maycomb, Alabama, and the primary characters include the three Finches: Atticus and his children, Jem and Scout. Scout is only six years old at the beginning of the story, but she opens the novel as a narrator who is looking back with the perspective of time. She is the one who describes Finch's Landing to us for the first time.
Finch's Landing is a place. Situated about 20 miles out of town, this home/farm/plantation is located on the Alabama River and was originally settled by Simon Finch, "a fur-trapping apothecary" from England. Simon was quite a character, rather stingy and irritable, but he settled the land and began the family tradition of all male Finches living on the almost self-sufficient, cotton-growing homestead.
The place was self-sufficient: modest in comparison with the empires around it, the Landing nevertheless produced everything required to sustain life except ice, wheat flour, and articles of clothing, supplied by river-boats from Mobile.
Finch's Landing is the two-story homestead, containing six bedrooms (with a seventh downstairs) and surrounded by porches on both levels of the house. The kitchen is large and detached. Clearly the image we get is very much like a plantation, and in fact that is what it was.
The current generation of Finches, however, has broken with tradition. The two male Finches went off to school and careers while the lone sister, Alexandra, lives at Finch's landing with her rather grumpy husband.
Finch's Landing is a symbolic place, as well. It represents the Old South, an old way of doing things and an old way of thinking. While Atticus and his brother have gotten beyond the slave-owning, black-denigrating kind of mentality and moved away from the homestead, Aunt Alexandra is still stuck in a mindset which believes that blacks are far inferior to whites. Aunt Alexandra values family and history and tradition, while Atticus values people and justice and what is right, as he demonstrates from the beginning of the story to the end. Presumably his children will continue in the ways he has taught them and will go even further in their beliefs about how to treat and value people.
For more insights and analysis on this classic novel, be sure to check out the excellent eNotes sites linked below.
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