Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quite simply, the story is set in the little town of Maycomb, Alabama in the middle of the Great Depression (the mid-1930s).  In Lee's brilliant way, she doesn't reveal this setting immediately and allows her readers to slowly figure it out in the first few pages.  On the first page, Scout says,

"If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn't?" (Lee 3) 

Soon after she admits her family "being southerners" has certain shames associated with them.  Finally, after seven large paragraphs we hear this:

When my father was admitted to the bar, he returned to Maycomb and began his practice.  Maycomb, some twenty miles each of Finch's Landing, was the county seat of Maycomb County.  Atticus's office in the courthouse contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checkerboard and a n unsullied Cod of Alabama. (4)

This setting is incredibly significant in regards to Southern race relations of the time and the setting itself implies that there may be a significant amount of racial prejudice within the story, which turns out to be true.  The irony is that when Lee was writing this novel (in the 1960s) race relations hadn't improved much at all.  For example, the few changes that did happen (such as the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended segregation in 1954) were resisted sometimes violently by the masses in Southern towns, . . . towns just like Maycomb.   

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maycomb Alabama during the 1930's sets To Kill A Mockingbird in such a way that the tension is not just read but felt by the reader. Although 65 years had past since the Civil War racial tensions still ran high, and then there was Atticus Finch. A man who defied the status-quo in Alabama so that a free man could remain free.

Many Civil Rights leaders and historians of the 20th century agree that Alabama was the most segregated state in the union. The story of To Kill A Mockingbird engages the reader in defining blind ignorance, racism, and the discovery of truth, while doing so in a place that offered little hope of success.  Although To Kill A Mockingbird is fiction, Harper Lee told the truth. The truth our nation deserved to hear.

jennifer-taubenheim eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the south during the 1930s. Specifically, they live in Macomb County, Alabama. Because of the Great Depression, poverty was widespread and this plays a large and devisive part in the story.

zumba96 | Student

This is set in Maycomb, Alabama. This is a small town and within this town, the racial prejudices are still swirling around. While there are people who stick to their biased racial beliefs, there are people who want to change the town for the better such as Atticus, his children, or even Miss Maudie, that believe that equality is what everyone should believe in. 

twilightsaga | Student

Maycomb, Alabama

chapterendnotes | Student

TKaM is set in the imaginary town of Macomb, Alabama. In reality, TKaM is based on the real town of Monroeville, Alabama. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question