Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is set in a small, rural Southern town Maycomb. The town is situated in Alabama, and it resembles any other town; there is nothing extraordinary about it. The action takes place in the 1930s, in the period between Civil War and Civil rights movement. Maycomb is just a little town, set in its old ways and not willing to change. Racism is still present here, and white people feel extremely prejudiced against black.
A normal day seems too long in this place, for there is nothing to do. The hours stretch endlessly, the people are never in a hurry, just because there is nowhere to go. People do not know about other cities or parts of the country. They do not care about what is going on there. Few people ever come to visit Maycomb, but those who live here, rarely leave.
No wonder that same families have been around for so long that everybody knows what to expect from every resident of the city. The reputations of the people of Maycomb have spread around, and stereotypes about them do not let their real personalities come through. In Maycomb, there is no hope for independent thinking and individuality, and not much can be done about that.
That is why, it is so hard for Atticus to defend a black man in the court. He is a progressive lawyer who is fighting for justice and equality. He does not differentiate the people according to their skin color. He understands the difference between a lie and a truth and thinks objectively, whereas the inhabitants of Maycomb cannot look past the black skin color. To them, it is simply impossible that a black man can be innocent, and a white young girl can be telling lies in court.
Racial segregation has always boomed in Maycomb. The African-Americans are forced to live on the outskirts of the city, where they have their own church and graveyard. Even at the trial, they have to sit separately from the white people. The whites all have good front seats, and the blacks sit mostly on the balconies. The town is separated, there is no unity; black and white people never eat, pray or spend time together.
When Atticus fails to defend Tom Robinson, he also fails to broaden the minds of his fellow citizens. However, black community really appreciates his continuous efforts for racial equality. When he is going out of the court room, they show him their respect by standing up. Atticus struggles a lot as he is misunderstood by the white people. However, he stays honest to himself and continues to fight for what he feels is right.
Thus, we see that the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird influences the course of events. It is essential to take the peculiarities of this little town into a consideration, when analyzing the story.