In To Kill a Mockingbird (United States of America: Warner Books Edition, 1960) Harper Lee portrays racial problems and social injustice between white people and black people in Maycomb County, Alabama. The story begins when Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. He and his sister, Scout, try to remember why Jem got the accident. From that accident, Scout tells about the neighborhood and social life in Maycomb County. Scout also tells her father, Atticus, a lawyer, who always helps someone who needs his help. In this story, Atticus defends a Negro, Tom Robinson. The setting in this book is Maycomb County that is an old, small, isolated town in Alabama, United States of America. In my opinion, the setting in To Kill a Mockingbird represents the attitudes of characters.
According to Scout, “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it . . . Somehow, it was hotter then . . . People moved slowly then.”[p.9] This quote tells us that Mycomb is an old town and the climate is hot and dry. I think it is not an interesting town because the town is dry and unclean, “…grass grew on the sidewalks..,” [p.9] In my opinion it is mean that the town it is not be well taken care of Mycomb’s people. The setting in this novel, Maycomb, also represents the character of the people, I guess. For example, when Atticus helped the Cunninghams, they do not pay him with money but they paid him with what they have such as radish, hickory, smilax and holly flowers and wood. Firstly, It is describes that the town is old because barter system still applied. Secondly, it represents the character of Atticus, who always helps someone honest and straightforward. When he helps someone, he does not make a standard price to pay his service. The Radleys’s house also represents the character of them, door and window of the Radleys’s house usually locks especially on Sunday. I think it represents their character, they are unsociable with their neighbor and they rarely go outside.
Besides, the setting in this novel also represents the racial injustice between white people and black people. For example, white people’s church is different with black people’s church. Black people or Negros cannot go to the white people’s church. Negros’ church is First Purchase African M.E. Church; it is an ancient paint-peeled frame building. They worshipped in it on Sundays and white man gambled in it on weekdays. The church is far from the town, it is in the Quarters outside the southern town limits; across the old sawmill tracks [p.120] In my opinion, the different church describe the prejudice of white people and black people. Although black people cannot go to the white people’s church, they still pride with their church, and vice versa.
The setting in the court also represents the racial injustice too. In the court, there is a difference of sitting place between black people and white people. White people sit downstairs and black people sit upstairs. I think, it means that social status between them is different. Besides, the courthouse also represents how old the town too. “..the Maycomb County courthouse was early Victorian…..Greek revival columns clashed with a big nineteenth-century….” [p.165] This quote explain that the style building of courthouse is old and in this quote is also explain although the place had been renovated, the people still preserve every physical scrap of the past.
Overall, Maycomb County is an old, dry, and ‘ancient’ town. Ancient means that the people sometimes use the ancient ways for pay something, for example the Cunninghams. The physical church of black people and the courthouse also describe how told the town is.