Maycomb's progress is discussed specifically with reference to the jury's deliberation. After the closing arguments of Tom Robinson's trial, the jury exits the court room to deliberate.
When Jem and Atticus discuss the verdict later, Atticus tells Jem two things that suggest changes in the town's attitudes.
- One juror actually argued for Tom's acquittal.
- The jury was out for hours. In the past a case like Tom Robinson's would have kept the jury in deliberation for minutes, not hours.
In these examples, Atticus attempts to show that progress is being made, slowly, in Maycomb's attitudes.
Old notions of right and wrong are challenged.
Another character, Miss Maudie, suggests that the jury's extended deliberation is proof that "baby steps" are being made in Maycomb. The fact that the verdict was not produced immediately, for her, represents a step toward maturity in Maycomb.
There is in fact a character in TKAM that embodies this time of transition perfectly. Dolphus Raymond is a key example of this change as he actually prefers to sit (and live) with the "Negros" as opposed to the white people in Maycomb. He has a black mistress and many mixed race children.
Another example is the period of time that it too the jury in Tom Robinson's case to deliberate. Normally a case like this would be decided in a few minutes but this verdict took several hours.
Atticus Finch is yet another attestaion that the times are changing. The fact that he not only took Tom Robinsons case but also stood in between and angry crowd and Tom in order to protect him. Mr. B.B Underwood who was said to hate Negros and couldn't stand to have them near him also protected Atticus from the crowd even though he was protecting a black man through that action.
Indications that this transition won't go smothly are shown in the towns attitude towards Mr. Raymonds life style, the fact that Tom was pronounced guilty even though there was solid evidence that he didn't rape Mayella Ewells and the fact that Atticus was badmouthed all over town and almost got mugged by an angry crowd.