To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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What Is Maycomb's Usual Disease

What is Maycomb's "usual disease" in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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sampadgett eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Maycomb's usual disease" refers to the towns inherent leaning towards racism and prejudice and the tendency to judge people too harshly for their actions without understanding their heart or intentions.  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Simply put, it is racism. Atticus tells his brother, Jack, in Chapter 9 that he hopes he can prevent his own children from "catching Maycomb's usual disease"--that of "reasonable people go[ing] stark-raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up." Atticus knows that he will make enemies from his decision to defend Tom Robinson, and he worries that the children will also get caught up in...

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talk-crap-in-class | Student

Maycomb's usual disease is racism and other types of dicrimination. Atticus  has tried to educate his  children in a way that they do not a victim of the "disease". He also know that his  decision to defend Tom Robinson had made himself enemies with the neighbourhood and also has worries that his children get caught up in the racial frenzy and become a person who is biased against Negroes. Also, he worries about the negative feelings that his children may feel. So, he hopes that he can navigate his kids around the racial ugliness that is "normal" in Maycomb. Also, from another point of view, "Maycomb's usual disease" is not treating everyone as an  individual who deserves basic respect. So in his theory in education, respect played a very important role. My conclusion is that Atticus did not want his children to become racism-enthusiasts.

zumba96 | Student

The usual disease is the racism that is spread across the town. Instead of taking the side of justice and even though all of the proof is pointing towards Bob Ewell, most of the townspeople believe in the misguided racism that is a disease throughout society. 

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