In Chapter 13 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what values does the town of Maycomb hold?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 13, Scout explains Maycomb as being a socially static, conservative collection of families that have lived together--and in each other's lives and business--since the Civil War. According to Scout, after the Civil War the town grew inward as the result of Reconstruction policies and the "economic ruin" that followed the war:

New people so rarely settled there, the same families married the same families until the members of the community looked faintly alike.

Anyone new who married someone from Maycomb and moved into the town was by definition an outsider. Scout also understood that there was a strict social structure in the town, a type of caste system. The people of Maycomb, because they had lived together for so many years, found each other "utterly predictable" and were stereotyped by their ancestry. Thus, Scout explained, everyone knew "never to take a check from a Delafield without a discreet call to the bank" and that "Miss Maudie Atkinson's shoulder stoops because she was a Buford."

The citizens of Maycomb continued to live as their generations had always lived, accepting the same beliefs and values. One of these most basic values, as exemplified by Aunt Alexandra's philosophy, was that family heritage mattered above all else in defining a person's life and significance and that social conventions must be observed without exception.

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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