Analyse the connection between the setting and one or more themes
Harper Lee uses the town of Maycomb Alabama located in the Southern Eastern part of America to connect the theme of racism during the times of the Civil rights movement and the Great Depression and the Jim Crow Laws. Harper Lee grew up in Maycomb Alabama in the 1930s and observed the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s to the 1960s. In her classic novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ she uses the location/setting of Maycomb Alabama to show the connection of racism to the setting.
The American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s was significant and led to a major change in American society. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and others were all a part of the public landscape as they fought for racial equality Lees audience would have been aware of these events as they read her novel and would have seen the real-life parallels in their own society. In this way, Lee contributed to the civil rights movement by highlighting important issues in a manner that was easy to understand and emphasised the possibility for positive change and racial harmony. Unfortunately, 60 years, despite improvements, America still suffers from some racial inequality.
Lee tries to coveys the message that Maycomb is a bad place and it is full of different kinds of discrimination. The time the novel was set included many well-known events in American history. The Jim Crow Laws, The Great Depression and The Civil rights movement.
The setting of Maycomb Alabama was just like every other southern town in the 1930s. The society which surrounded it reflects how strong class distinctions were noticed in the Old South before the civil war. The whites and blacks were not groups who socialised and there were different levels of equality between the two races. The majority of the white population in Maycomb were racist. They would see the blacks as second class citizens and second class humans.
The 1876-1965 Jim Crow laws were something that affected thousands of African American people in the American South. The setting of the novel was in Maycomb Alabama in the 1930s, during this time the Jim Crow laws were occurring. The Jim Crow laws were the laws around segregation in public spaces. These would separate the blacks from the whites in all areas of everyday life; bathrooms, buses, schools, drinking fountains, seats. These were all labelled as “Whites only” and “Coloured” on signs. The African Americans would receive “Separate but equal” Treatment under the American laws at this time. Throughout the Jim Crow laws, black codes were made. African Americans could not testify on white Americans, they didn’t have the right to vote unless literacy tests were passed.
The Jim Crow laws were forms of institutionalized racism towards the African American population, a vast majority of the white Americans would support this and the Jim Crow laws.
A Courthouse is a place in Maycomb that can relate to the Jim Crow laws. The courthouse itself has a Victorian, Greek-like architecture which can link to how Maycomb is seen as a tired old town. It should be place equality but it is not. The courtroom is symbolic. The black people sit in the coloured balcony which is separate from the whites. The whites would be on the ground floor which means they would be closer to the action whereas the blacks would be on the balcony away from it. Courts are usually seen as a place of equality and justice but Maycomb is a place of injustice. This links in with the Jim Crow laws as the two races were not allowed to sit together and it showed segregation.
During the time the novel was written and realised the Civil Rights movement was occurring. The 1950-1960 Civil Rights movement was the struggle for social justice for African Americans to have equal rights in the U.S. This started when the Montgomery Bus Boycott occurred Rosa Parks incident occurred. In 1955 Rosa Parks was travelling home from work on a bus, this was during the time of the Jim Crow laws and black passengers were to sit near the back end of the bus. Parks refused to move for a white man who could not find a seat. This was the start of the movement towards desegregation and equality. When Lee realised to kill a mockingbird in 1960 Americans had just witnessed the 10-year civil rights movement and when reading her novel readers could see how it related to people in the 1930s, now and even now in 2021. Harper Lee chooses her words wisely when writing to kill a mockingbird because she is speaking to those who live in the difficult time of the civil rights movement. Discrimination is rife throughout Maycomb, all sections of society show discrimination towards some group or another.
In Harper Lees novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ the setting of Maycomb Alabama links to the theme of inequality and racism. During the time that To Kill a Mockingbird was set in and to when it was realised the Jim Crow Laws and The Civil Rights Movement were occurring in American affecting millions of people. This made the link between the setting and the theme strong as it connects well to Maycomb and the people who would be reading the novel.