Settings in to Kill a Mockingbird

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‘Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself’. This statement made by Scout at the beginning of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird shows that Maycomb is a town in which the fear of change is rife. Lee’s choice of Maycomb as a setting, developed through narrative point of view and characterisation was vital to the text as it helped to develop the theme of prejudice and the consequences which result from the fixed attitudes of an insular town.

One of the ways in which Lee presents Maycomb is through the fluctuating narrative point of view between he mature adult Scout and the naïve child narrator. The narration of Scout as an adult is objective and is suggestive of the opinions of the people who live in Maycomb. Maycomb is described as ‘an old town’ and a ‘tired old town’ at that, suggesting that the people who live there are stuck in their ways, do not want to change and are even afraid of what change may do to their insular society. The innocent child’s voice adds to this view of Maycomb, by displaying that the citizens who live there are unaware of the outside world and are suck in their daily routines, ‘Routine contentment was improving our tree house’. This narration shows how very easy it was for Maycomb citizens to uphold their ingrained prejudice as they are living in a place in which change and acceptance of other people’s lifestyles is not valued.

Another way in which Lee presents Maycomb as an insular society in which prejudice prospers is through characterisation. Scout, an intelligent and kind little girl whose father, Aticus is considered to be the moral backbone of the novel, at the tender age of six, already displays prejudice when she laughs at Walter Cunningham for ‘pouring syrup over his vegetables’. This shows that the attitudes in Maycomb are so entrenched that just living their makes one prejudiced. Another way Lee emphasizes this fact is through Dill, a young boy who comes to Maycomb forth summer....
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