In chapter one, Scout comments on her brother's injury, elaborates on her family heritage, and describes her small, tired hometown of Maycomb, Alabama. Scout begins by explaining how her ancestor, Simon Finch, ended up establishing a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River, Finch's Landing, where her father, uncle, and aunt grew up. Scout then comments on her father's occupation as a lawyer and mentions that he paid for his brother to go to medical school in Boston. Scout then elaborates on the culture of her hometown and describes her pleasant life growing up in Maycomb. Scout also mentions that Calpurnia is her family's maid and says that they live on the main residential street with her father and older brother, Jem.
The plot of the story begins when Dill arrives from Meridian to stay with his aunt, Rachel Haverford,for the summer and befriends Scout and Jem Finch. After their brief introductions, Jem goes on to describe the legendary stories concerning their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, who lives in a dilapidated, ominous home at the end of the street. Scout then elaborates on the neighborhood gossip surrounding Boo Radley and gives a brief description of his troubled past. Scout also describes the members of the Radley family and mentions that they are considered reclusive outcasts in their community. Jem then offers a fantastical description of Boo, which portrays him as a frightening creature.
At the end of chapter one, Dill bets Jem to touch the Radley home, and Jem wins the bet by running into the yard and slapping the side of the Radley house before sprinting home.