What are ten descriptions of the Maycomb Courthouse in Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The courthouse is in the middle of town and not far from where Scout and her family live. Scout describes the courthouse as if it were slightly dilapidated because she says it "sagged in the square" (5). The courthouse must not have had indoor plumbing when Boo Radley was a teenager because he and the Cunningham boys locked Mr. Conner in the Courthouse's outhouse the night they went joyriding in a flivver (10). However, many more descriptions of the courthouse can be found in chapter 16.

First, Scout says that it reminds her of Arlington because of the concrete pillars that support the roof on the south side. Since part of the courthouse was burned in 1856, another part of the building was built up around what remained. As a result, the north part of the courthouse looks Victorian. From another side of the building, Scout says that "Greek revival columns clashed with a big nineteenth-century clock tower housing a rusty unreliable instrument" (162).

There are two levels inside of the courthouse. The courtroom itself is housed on the second floor. One must pass different county clerks on the way. Scout calls those who work at the courthouse "creatures of their environment: little gray-faced men, they seemed untouched by wind or sun" (163). In addition, the hallways are dark, so they need to have the lights on during the daytime.

Finally, Scout describes the smell of the courthouse as follows:

". . . [it] smelled of decaying record books mingled with old damp cement and stale urine" (163).

Not only does the courthouse stink, but it is always dusty. The floorboards are also rough, which suggests that they are neglected as much as the rest of the building.


mrwickline eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Maycomb Courthouse resembled the Arlington Courthouse (1). It had huge concrete pillars that supported a light roof; these were still standing after it burnt in 1856 (2).  The southern porch was nearly Victorian (3). On the other side of the courthouse there were Greek revival columns, and a big 19th-century clock tower with a rusty clock (4).  The courtroom was on the second floor (5) and to get to it one had to pass "sundry sunless county cubbyholes" (6) of the: tax assessor, the tax collector, the county clerk, the county solicitor, the circuit clerk, and the judge of probate. These people worked in cool dim hutches (7) that smelled of decaying record books, mingled with old damp cement and stale urine (8). One needed to turn the lights on during the day (9) and there was always a film of dust on the floorboards (10).

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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