Settings in to Kill a Mockingbird

757 Words Oct 31st, 2012 4 Pages
‘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
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Beautiful things floated round in his dreamy head.’

The choice of a small insular town in which to set a novel about racial prejudice helped Lee to develop the idea that ‘Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced.’ At first, the prejudices displayed by the citizens of Maycomb seem benign and irrelevant. However, in this small community these prejudices soon culminate into something much more serious: racial prejudice. This prejudice is displayed in the trail of Tom Robinson in which the defence lawyer refers to Tom as ‘boy’, while politely questioning white witnesses. This causes Dill to start crying at the unfairness and injustice that is created by racism saying, ‘it was just him I couldn’t stand’.

Maycomb also serves in showing how the persecution of innocent ‘mockingbirds’ can result from racial prejudice. Maycomb’s highly defined social class system, in which blacks are considered to be lesser equals, is the reason for the persecution of Tom Robinson. Robinson’s persecution came not only because he was black, but because he broke one of Maycomb’s social mores by feeling sorry for and helping Mayella Ewell – ‘You felt sorry for her? You felt sorry’. The notion that a black could be in a position to feel sympathy for a white was abhorrent for Maycomb’s citizens and this is why they allowed and indeed endorsed the persecution of an innocent man. Tom Robinson’s death highlights the failings of

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