The first-person narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, writes from an unnamed setting and an unspecified point in time. Presumably an adult as she tells the story, Jean Louise was five years old at the time it began. All the events in her story take place in Alabama in the early-to-mid 1930s, primarily in and around the fictional town of Maycomb, which is the seat of Maycomb County.
Chapter 1 offers a description of places that Scout, then “almost six” years old, considered important. While the older narrator provides a context for those specific places, she also emphasizes the limited territory in which the little girl and her brother, Jem, typically circulated. The story begins in the summer, and the boundaries of this territory are “within calling distance of Calpurnia,” the Finch family’s housekeeper, who watches them while their father is at work.
Scout provides very little information about her house, which is on the town’s “main residential street.” She initially mentions the kitchen and the backyard. She emphasizes the relationship to the nearby houses, including Miss Haverford’s house next door and
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose's house two doors to the north of us, and the Radley Place three doors to the south.
She also indicates that the school is located behind the Radley’s property.
Scout describes Maycomb as “a tired old town” and mentions its somewhat run-down state as having red (presumably unpaved clay) streets that turn to “slop” in the rain and untended grass that grows over the sidewalks.
As the county seat, Maycomb contains the courthouse and the jail. Scout and Jem's father, Atticus, an attorney, has an office in the courthouse. The building “sagged in the square,” which has numerous live oaks. Around the square are stores, to which people “shamble” in the summer heat.