In To Kill A Mockingbird, what is the setting of the story? How does Harper Lee use the setting to set a tone?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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To Kill A Mockingbird is set in a small, southern town, Maycomb, Alabama, during The Great Depression of the 1930s. It is entrenched in tradition and families struggle to rise above their circumstances or even seem to want to. The mood is summed up  in the apt description of a place where 

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.

Atticus Finch, respected and educated, does everything he can to ensure an upbringing for his children that is not reflective of the mood or discriminatory beliefs of the many Maycomb residents who, in Atticus's words have "blind spots along with the rest of us." 

Taking place over the course of two years, mainly at the Finch's home, the school,the courthouse where the racial segregation is most obvious and the "black" part of town, emphasizes the extent to which the south protected its agricultural background, suspicious and reluctant of any attempts at industrialization, firmly believing in its southern values and "gentle breeding." Believing a "black man's word" seems preposterous as segregation was such an integrated part of life in the south. Even Atticus does not really challenge the basic system of segregation, only the beliefs. 


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