What is it like for Scout and Jem to grow up in To Kill a Mockingbird's Maycomb?
As Scout points out in the opening chapter of the novel,
Maycomb... was a tired old town when I first knew it...
There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. (Chapter 1)
There is little for the children to do but play outside in their spare time, using their imaginations to keep from being bored by play-acting, rolling the tire, playing in their treehouse and reading. Although they have a radio, the advent of TV is still years away; there is no movie theatre in town, and the children are jealous of Dill because he "went to the picture show twenty times" in Meridian from the money he won "in a beautiful child contest." Not once during the course of the novel do the children go outside the boundaries of the county; although Atticus travels to the capital in Montgomery, Jem and Scout never accompany him. Jem and Scout never seem to play with other children their age aside from the summers spent with Dill; Scout has no girlfriends, and Jem seems to prefer playing with his sister than with other boys. It is no wonder that the Radley house and the "malevolent phantom" who lives inside interests them so much, for there is little else to do within the boundaries of their neighborhood. They do go swimming occasionally at Barker's Eddy, and on the rare occurrences when they have a little money (such as after Jem's birthday), they visit the downtown stores such as V. J. Elmore's. Events such as the trial of Tom Robinson, the Halloween pageant, Miss Maudie's house fire and Atticus's killing of the mad dog become important memories for the children who, if not for their curiosity and vivid imaginations, would probably be bored to death in tiny Maycomb.