“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” and so they were in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama (Dickens 1). In Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the small town of Maycomb, it was indeed the best and worst of times for the character Scout as she recounted the tales of school years and summers that affected her as she grew up through the course of the novel. Just as any child growing up, the adults that surrounded her set the example and played a monumental role in how she saw the world. In Maycomb, there were many different adults who felt the best and worst of times and who also play diverse roles; Atticus Finch, Bob Ewell, and Arthur “Boo” Radley.
Maycomb/Monroeville during these times is going through the Great Depression which is affecting all of America. The small town of about 4,292 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is a farming county where nickels and dimes are hard to come by even for the upper class (Lee 27). In Maycomb/Monroe County around 86.1 percent of the community is illiterate, unlike Atticus Finch (Census 22).
One of the diverse roles in Maycomb is played by Atticus Finch who is the father of Scout in the novel and is seen by many to be an upstanding figure in the community. Miss Maudie illustrated this by saying, “I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them”(Lee 288). When saying this she refers to the court case he is representing that shows even more how his character’s purpose to the town is to serve others. This is further illustrated when Miss Maudie continues to explain her opinion of his difficult case by questioning the children, “Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident” (289). Not only does this show his importance as a servant of the community in Miss Maudie’s eyes, but it serves as evidence to show how the community also views him in the same light. Atticus also understands and humbly accepts his role and name in the community, which is seen when he, with tearful eyes, tells Calpurnia to thank his supporters and to also tell them that they must never do the same again because of the hard times (286). Even though he, as previously stated, understands that they are in hard economic times he manages to make the best with what he has, including his family name.
Unlike Atticus’ character, who serves as a positive and selfless role model for the town of Maycomb, Bob Ewell shows himself to be a character that leaves much to be desired as a person. Even Atticus Finch, who serves as an upstanding and well mannered citizen of Maycomb “said they [The Ewells] were absolute trash...” (164). Bob Ewell makes this rather apparent himself later in the book when he approaches Atticus after the court trials and spits on his face saying he would get him [Atticus Finch]...