what is the Maycombs usual disease
To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel written by Harper Lee, addresses the topic to racism frequently and rather thoroughly. The story takes place in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama in the early twentieth century. In the novel, Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, a black man who is falsely accused and convicted of raping Mayella Ewell, a white girl. Finch is concerned about the way that his defense of Robinson could affect his children and discusses the matter with his younger brother, Jack.
"...You know what's going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand...I just hope Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough..."
The disease that Atticus refers to is racism, or prejudice. He wants to protect his children from adopting a viewpoint that he knows is wrong, but he is also fully aware of the fact that most of the people in Maycomb do not see things as he does. Atticus knows that he will lose the case, and he hopes that Jem and Scout will see the truth and realize how ugly and cruel racism is.