What is the significance of the setting of the novel?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The setting of a novel may be vital to helping to establish its central themes. In this novel, the setting is extremely significant to its central theme of racism and social prejudice in general. Although it is never directly stated the story is set during the 1930s.We can deduce this from certain references in the novel (for instance the rise of Hitler in Germany). It is set entirely in the small town of Maycomb in Alabama, thus showing life in a small Southern town in the inter-war years, the kind of place where racism is likely to be a significant issue. Class differences, the divisions between rich and poor, are also more likely to be emphasised during these years of the Great Depression. Lee is also at pains to depict this town as being very much self-enclosed, where prejudices and divisions between people of different social class, race and even gender have existed for years and years. Most of the people of Maycomb hardly seem aware of the larger world outside their town. Lee exposes the failings and restrictiveness of this small-town mentality, seriously with the trial of Tom Robinson, but also more lightheartedly in other instances.

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