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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Choose at least a page from To Kill a Mockingbird that has a strong sense of place or setting. Describe this place or setting. How is this place or setting important in the novel you have chosen? Support your answer with reference to the novel.

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One instance of memorable place in Lee's novel that reinforces the theme is her description of the Ewell's home. The poverty and ignorance that they live in is reflected in their vindictiveness (anger at the world over their status). They have been reduced to a near animal level of existence, have no pride in themselves nor trust in others.

The home is described vividly in Chapter 17. The setting and description of the Ewells living conditions help us understand, if not excuse, the Ewell's behavior:

Maycomb's Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negro cabin. The cabin's plank walls were supplemented with sheets of corrugated iron, its roof shingled with tin cans hammered flat, so only its general shape suggested its original design: square, with four tiny rooms opening onto a shotgun hall, the cabin rested uneasily upon four irregular lumps of limestone. Its windows were merely open spaces in the walls...

The varmint had a lean time of it, for the Ewells' gave the dump a thorough gleaning every day...

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Maycomb is a sleepy little town in Alabama where Scout has to admit that a day seemed longer than 24 hours and the town seemed older than it really was. Everyone knows everyone in Maycomb. Jem and Scout feel secure in this little town at the beginning of the novel. It's not until the trial ends, that Jem's security begins to be questioned.

Another aspect of setting is time. Set in during the dirty thirties, it explains some of the actions of the characters like the Cunninghams paying Atticus in hickory nuts. It also gives a reference point for race relations in the South. No one bats an eye in Depression Era Maycomb that all the African Americans go to a separate church or that the ladies in the missionary circle look down on their "coloured" servents.

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