Harper Lee grew up in Alabama in a time when racism was rampant and the people were merely sustaining an adequate life due to the Great Depression. The story is set in the rural town of Maycomb, which is a place where, “there was no hurry, for there was no place to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with...” Maycomb is a slow paced, hot, poverty-stricken Alabaman town with outdated infrastructures where people had old-fashioned values and traditional views. These factors then spread an outbreak of fear, which dramatically steers the course of the novel.
People in Maycomb generally stick to their daily routines and stay away from anyone who seems suspicious or out of place. Because of this ideology, Boo Radley a mysterious, seemingly sinister figure that never comes out of hiding becomes the subject of the town’s never-ending streams of gossip, accusations and fallacies. For the children, Boo was a fascinating figure that seems to be the center of all their ghost stories, which they share like ones around a campfire. Boo is said to be a man who, “dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch…” This is a vicious, bloody image that is painted in the reader’s mind. Boo is described so vividly through the eyes of a variety of characters that this portrayal of him almost becomes the reality. For the children, fear is a sign of weakness and Boo is the source of their fear. As the time passes on, the children’s plans to force Boo out of hiding become more and more elaborate. Jem, Scout and Dill decide to role-play what Boo’s might be like. In a way, this helps the children cope with their fear. The more they think they know about Boo, the less fearful they become.
This fear of change has also bought out fear due to prejudice. Although slavery in the United States has been over for a few decades, segregation and ostracizing still hasn’t been abolished in the south. If a black woman were to ever be married to a white man, it would be the downfall of Maycomb’s social order. The townspeople cannot accept this change, as they are stubborn and fearful for their place in this hierarchy. Dolphus Raymond is a man who pretends to be the town drunk. Although the only real beverage that he drinks is Coca-Cola that he gets out of a paper bag. He does this in order to ease the people of Maycomb and give them a reason as to why he lives with a black woman with mixed children. He understands that it would be difficult for the people in the community to understand why he chose this lifestyle. So he puts up this mask in order to protect his family and make life easier for himself.
Due to their traditional views and dismay for new ideas, Tom Robinson’s trial caused an outbreak of rumors and hostility around the town. With a Caucasian father defending a black man, this news affects the children the worst. Teasing and bullying not only in school but also from...