In Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, why is growing up often difficult in Maycomb County?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, growing up in Maycomb County is often presented as a difficult process for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Racial prejudice is strong in the county, as the rape accusation and the subsequent trial and unjust conviction prove. No black child living in the county really has a chance to grow up with the same freedoms and opportunities enjoyed by many white children.
  • Poverty afflicts the lives of many characters, including the Ewell family.
  • In some cases, the poor seem content with their poverty, as when Scout notes that

Atticus said the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations. None of them had done an honest day’s work in his recollection.

In other words, poverty can become a vicious cycle – a habitual mindset – into which children are born and from which they rarely escape.

  • Some members of the community have little interest in becoming educated, as is the case with the Ewells.
  • Violence or threats of violence are common.



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To Kill a Mockingbird

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