What is the setting in chapter 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Chapter 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird is set primarily in Maycomb, a fictional town in Alabama. Specific locations that the first-person narrator, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, mentions include the town square, the stores around it, and the street where her family’s house is located. The events in the novel take place in the 1930s. The adult Jean Louise may be writing her narrative in Maycomb or a different unnamed location.

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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.

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To Kill a Mockingbird opens in Maycomb, Alabama, a small country setting in the 1930s. This influences the plot and Scout's narration from the very beginning as she notes, for example, that "being Southeners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings" and "it was customary for the men in the family to remain on Simon's homestead, Finch's Landing, and make their living from cotton." Southern traditions and ways of thinking influence the plot and directly build to the climax of the novel.

The setting also contributes to various character conflicts, with one notable conflict being between Atticus, a more progressively-thinking Southerner, and Aunt Alexandra, who is deeply concerned with how she and the family will be judged if they deviate from expected Southern social norms.

Scout describes Maycomb with a lazy sort of indifference, setting the stage for the childhood adventures she enjoys with Jem and Dill; the setting also provides the stark contrast between the lazy childhood days early in the novel and the backdrop for the trial that will launch the children into new maturity later in the novel.

Readers also learn that the Finch household, which is a focal point of the setting for much of the novel, sits close to the Radley Place, which "[juts] into a sharp curve beyond [their] house." This proximity will also drive several subplots as the novel progresses.

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The setting of the novel takes place in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama during the early 1930s. In Chapter 1, Scout describes Maycomb as a tired, old town where people moved slowly. Scout also comments on the weather and mentions that the summers were extremely hot, and when it rained the streets turned to "red slop." Since the novel takes place during the Great Depression, Scout comments on the fact that there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with. Scout also mentions that there was a "vague optimism" throughout the community and references a line from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address. However, the setting of the novel reflects elements of the Southern Gothic genre. The run-down town, ugly weather, harsh economic climate, and relative slow-moving nature of the community correspond with Southern Gothic literature. In this setting, Lee portrays how innocent individuals are harmed by their prejudiced neighbors. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression.

This is a very setting-driven book, and the setting is a character itself.  The town has very specific peculiarities.  People are friends and neighbors one day, and lynch mob members the next.  Scout describes the town in chapter 1.

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. (Ch 1)

The long descriptions of the town and the streets in chapter 1 help us picture where the story takes place.  Scout notes that people moved more slowly then, because there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.

But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself. (ch 1)

This famous FDR speech, and the comments about no one having money, definitely place the story at the time of the Great Depression.  People had suffered for quite some time.  Professional people and farmers struggled, and the poor were even more poor.

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