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Harper Lee injects a great deal of information in the opening chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird. The story’s narrator, Scout, has been set the task of providing as much background and introducing as many figures in her life as seems humanly possible. This is a little girl with much to say about her childhood in Maycomb, Alabama, and Lee introduces many of the characters who will populate the story that follows. Chief among these characters, of course, are Scout’s older brother Jem, their best friend Dill, Scout and Jem’s father Atticus Finch, Aunt Alexandra Finch, Atticus’ sister, the Radley family from down the street, especially the mysterious figure of Arthur “Boo” Radley, the Finch family’s servant, Calpurnia, and the Ewells, the family who would emerge at the center of the book’s main conflict involving allegations of rape against an itinerant African-American, Tom Robinson. In addition to introducing the reader to the novel’s main characters, reference is also made to a number of additional characters who provide background or context but otherwise are peripheral to the main story. These include local law enforcement official Mr. Conner, Mrs. Lafayette Dubose, a neighbor, Miss Rachel Haverford, another neighbor in whose collard patch the Finch children would first encounter Dill, and Ms. Stephanie Crawford, the town gossip, or “scold.” Finally, Lee references relationships that provide historical context, but who otherwise serve only tangential roles in the story, most prominently Simon Finch, the first of the Finch’s to establish himself in Maycomb, and Nathan Radley, Boo’s elder brother who returns the family home to care for Boo following their father’s death.
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