Where is the courthouse located in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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It is not stated directly where the courthouse is, but Scout describes going past it on the night that she, Jem and Dill follow Atticus to the jail (chapter 15). She talks about passing through the town square, and that on the south side of the square the courthouse is more or less in darkness. Even without this information, we can assume that a building as important as this would have a prime, central location within the town, and Scout’s description is in keeping with this. She also mentions that Atticus once had his law office in the courthouse but that he decided to move to ‘quieter quarters’ in the bank building. The courthouse, then, certainly seems to be in the busiest part of town.

Although it has such an important role to play in the life of the town, the courthouse itself does not seem to be a particularly imposing building. Scout drops a telling remark in passing when she describes what Maycomb was like when it was first established:

In the beginning its buildings were solid, its courthouse proud, its streets graciously wide. (chapter 13)

This implies that the courthouse, along with the town in general, has now fallen into a somewhat dilapidated state. In fact, we learn later that the original courthouse burned down and a new one was erected, in rather a mishmash of architectural styles.  The feeling of decay that hangs around the place is reinforced with Scout’s description of the fusty, dingy old offices within the building (chapter 16).

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