What are three adjectives to describe Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird? How is it described in the text?

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readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This question is a matter of opinion. In light of this, let me give my thoughts. My three adjectives would be: slow-moving, blind, and tragic. 

First, the town is, undoubtedly, slow-moving. Nothing much happens and more significantly, change is not something that is in the air. Tradition reigns for good or ill. Certainly when it comes to racism, this is a bad thing. Right from the beginning this note is struck.

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.

The town was also blind. Maycomb is not able to see that they have blindspots. The racism is pronounced, but they do not see it. An innocent man, like  Tom  Robinson, is made to be guilty and killed and very few people bat an eyelid. What makes it worse is that most of the people think they are good Christians. Mrs. Merriwether is a perfect example. She think she cares for blacks in Africa, but she does not care for Maycomb.

Mrs. Merriweather’s large brown eyes always filled with tears when she considered the oppressed. “Living in that jungle with nobody but J. Grimes Everett,” she said. “Not a white person’ll go near ‘em but that saintly J. Grimes Everett."

Now all of this is very tragic, because an innocent man, Tom Robinson and his family suffers. It is also tragic, because Bob Ewell almost killed two innocent children. What makes this most tragic is that at the end of the story, only a handful of people actually care.

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adandrews's profile pic

adandrews | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

On the flip side, we can also see the town of Maycomb as hopeful, growing, and close-knit.

  • HOPEFUL: The jury deliberated as long as it did because one of the jurors did not want to convict Tom Robinson... a juror who was "kin," or family, to some of the men who showed up one evening in the hopes of lynching Tom. The fact that this man, a Cunningham, was willing to stand his ground for as long as he did during deliberation is a sign of hope, that people can and will change their minds, albeit slowly.
  • GROWING: We see how Jem and Scout learn and grow throughout the book, as well as less popular characters like Aunt Alexandria and Mrs. Dubose. Aunt Alexandria was visibly shaken when she heard the news of Tom, so it is evident that as a community, even the harshest of characters can show sympathy for the plight of Tom Robinson. Also, Link Deas defiantly helped Helen by offering her a job and walking her to work, even threatening Bob Ewell to leave her alone,  although the Robinson family was being shunned by others in the white community. Finally, the judge in Tom's trial specifically requested that Atticus defend Tom, knowing full well that Atticus would be the only one to take the job seriously and actually put forth effort in the defense. He wanted Tom to have a fair trial.
  • CLOSE:KNIT: Although Mrs. Dubose said hateful, vindictive and hurtful things to his children, Atticus still demanded that Jem read to her daily in reparation for destroying her flowers. He understood her backstory, and while he did not share that with his children initially, he taught them the lesson of how to treat neighbors. He also was insistent that the kids leave the Radley family alone, while still ensuring the Radley's were safe (like when Cal knocked on the door and warned them about the rabid dog, and Atticus was cautious not to shoot into their house). Finally, when Miss Maudie's house burned down, Boo protectively placed a blanket on Scouts shoulders to warm her (even though he risked being seen), and Miss Rachael took in Miss Maudie while her house was being rebuilt.

While there are many sad and tragic events in the story, we also see signs of hope and peace.

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