In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, what is the significance of some of the places?
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee exposes the debilitating and often tragic consequences of stereotyping, judging others based on race or social status and the potential for good even in the face of, in this case, an unjust outcome. Atticus knows that Tom will be found guilty even though he will make a compelling case, showing Tom's innocence. Maycomb County is just too prejudiced. He explains to Scout why he will still defend Tom:
"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," (ch 9).
Maycomb County itself is, therefore, a very significant place in understanding the eventual outcome of Tom Robinson's trial. As a "southern" town, the reader expects complications and comes to realize how deep-seated the injustice is. The jail is also central to the plot and is described by Scout as "a miniature Gothic joke," (ch 15) and the fact that the same building can be described as either a "good solid respectable" building or "a Victorian privy," reflects the contradictory principles of the residents in Maycomb County. The courthouse continues the apparent contradiction. It previously burned down and all that remained were the old columns. Having preserved the columns, despite them have no useful purpose, does nothing other than to preserve the past. Segregation is obvious and, during the court session, the black people are required to sit in the gallery. The reader draws some hope from Reverend Sykes's invitation to the Finch children to join them on the balcony which may suggest that, perhaps, a new generation has the potential to change Maycomb County and make a difference. Jem is convinced that Tom will be confirmed as innocent as there is no other logical conclusion and cannot believe the outcome as he is sure that "We've got him." The developments in the courthouse have significance as Atticus consistently undermines the Ewells' testimony but to no avail.
The Finch household stands as the place of reason, understanding and tolerance. Unfortunately it will not be enough to overcome the narrow-mindedness of Maycomb County.
1. THE MAYCOMB TRIBUNE OFFICE, where Mr. Underwood
edited the newspaper; across from the jail. Chapter 15.
2. MAYCOMB JUNCTION, train station. Chapter 14.
3. FINCH'S LANDING, Atticus' homestead, 20 miles west of
Maycomb. Chapter 1.
4. RADLEY PLACE, home of Boo. Chapter 1.
5. MAYCOMB COUNTY JAIL, where Tom Robinson was held.
6. BARKER'S EDDY, where "Crazy Addie" drowned. Chapter 1
& Chapter 25.
7. OLD SARUM, an area north of Maycomb and home to the
Cunninghams. Chapter 1.
8. SCHOOL HOUSE, where Jem and Scout attended. Chapter
9. FIRST PURCHASE AFRICAN M. E. CHURCH, Calpurnia's
church. Chapter 12.
10. JITNEY JUNGLE, the grocery store near where Mr. Ewell
spit on Atticus. Chapter 23.
These are additional places that are key to understanding the story:
- The Finch home
- Miss Maudie's home (old and new)
- Mrs. Dubose's home
- The Ewell home
- The Robinson home
Most of the homes hold an importance. One of the most important homes is the one of the Radley's. As the kids were growing up they viewed the home as something to play with that was not real. However, as the grew older they realized that Boo who they thought was pretend was actually a human being forced to be inside of his home.