Describe What Happens At Finch's Landing

What is Finch's Landing in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Finch's Landing stands as a relic of the Old South. It is a former plantation, twenty miles from Maycomb, on the banks of the Alabama River. It was once a flourishing cotton plantation begun by Simon Finch of Cornwall, England, and maintained by the male descendants of his family. The...

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Finch's Landing stands as a relic of the Old South. It is a former plantation, twenty miles from Maycomb, on the banks of the Alabama River. It was once a flourishing cotton plantation begun by Simon Finch of Cornwall, England, and maintained by the male descendants of his family. The end of this prosperity came, as it did to so many other plantations, with the Civil War. After this, Simon's relatives were left with only the land and the large, rambling house located at the end of a two-rut road.

The white house has two stories with verandas that circle it upstairs and downstairs, in the style of many a plantation home, but that is all that is similar to others homes of that style. Inside, Simon Finch had the daughters' bedrooms arranged so that they could only be reached by one staircase, which began in the bedroom of their parents. In this way Simon always was aware of the coming and going of his daughters in the evenings. Remnants of slavery remain, as the kitchen is separated from the rest of the house by a wooden catwalk, and an old bell used to summon slaves or ring as a distress signal still stands on a pole.

Whereas Atticus and his brother Jack have left this residence for independent lives in respected professions, their sister Alexandra remains at the old residence with a "taciturn man" who lies around in a hammock and does little more than watch his fishing lines. In this Old South environment, Alexandra remains a firm believer in tradition as evinced by her continuing to live in the old home and her insistence upon maintaining old traditions. Having never completely separated herself from the old world of the South as her brothers have, Aunt Alexandra maintains certain views that collide with those of the more progressive Atticus.

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Finch's Landing is where Atticus comes from. He grew up 20 miles west of Maycomb on an old plantation that has been in his family for a few generations. It was settled by an ancestor named Simon Finch who was first involved in the fur-trapping trade. He was also an apothecary and very pious. He apparently grew anything and everything to sustain life except for ice, wheat flour and clothing. They mostly grew cotton, though, and the place was self-sufficient. The end of the Civil War destroyed the South morally and economically. When Atticus left Finch's Landing for law school, he didn't return, but settled instead in Maycomb to maintain his practice. Uncle Jack went to medical school and Aunt Alexandra married and remained on the homestead. Every Christmas is like a family reunion, though, because everyone goes to Finch's Landing to enjoy the holidays and become reacquainted. 

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In Chapter 1 Scout tells us that Finch’s Landing is about 20 miles from Maycomb, where the story takes place. Atticus, whose last name is Finch, comes from Finch’s Landing, the place named after his distant relative Simon Finch.  Atticus left Finch’s Landing to study law and never returned. The significance of the name and place is that Atticus comes from a good family, in that they owned land and prospered, although not an aristocratic family.  This means a good deal to his sister, Alexandra.

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Simon Finch's cotton plantation, Finch's Landing, is a significant piece of Finch family history that might illuminate Atticus's attitude towards race and relationships in his community of Maycomb.

The reader can infer from Scout's adult-voiced narration that, Finch's Landing has been an important place for the Finch family. The family's American story begins on this piece of land, and the family home is described in impressive language, which must mean that the plantation was a success. This success can be credited to Simon Finch's efficient management of the slaves that worked the cotton fields, but some acknowledgement must be made of the slaves who did the physical labor.

Atticus has had a good education and his family has had a stable place in Alabama society thanks to both Simon Finch and thanks to the slaves; therefore, Atticus, who appears to have a powerful conscience, would have good reason to want to treat black men and women properly and with respect. Without them, Finch's Landing simply would not have existed.

 

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Finch’s Landing is the Finch family compound.  It was founded by the first Finch to leave the old country to come to America, Simon Finch.

It was customary for the men in the family to remain on Simon's homestead, Finch's Landing, and make their living from cotton. (ch 1)

Finch’s Landing is along the river, and is a nearly self-sufficient plantation.  What the plantation does not produce is shipped down the river from Mobile. 

During the Civil War, the Finch family lost everything but their land, so Finch’s Landing is very important to the family.

Atticus Finch was the first Finch to break tradition by leaving Finch’s Landing.  He went to study law, and then put his brother through medical school.  Atticus settled in Maycomb, twenty miles east of Finch’s Landing.

Atticus insists on going to Finch’s Landing every Christmas.

Finch's Landing consisted of three hundred and sixty-six steps down a high bluff and ending in a jetty. (ch 9)

The house is reached by a “two-rut road” leading to “a two-storied white house with porches circling it upstairs and downstairs” (ch 9).  The house is elaborately built like most Southern plantation houses, allegedly to please Simon Finch’s wife.

Atticus no longer lives at the Landing, but his sister Alexandra and her husband Jimmy do, along with their son Frances (a year younger than Scout).

The Finches are an important family, because they have had their land for so long.  The land lends them prestige and importance in the community.  This matters a lot to Alexandra, but less to Atticus.

 

 

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