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In order to appreciate To Kill A Mockingbird fully we should be familiar with some of the background of its setting The South in the colonial times grew into an area with large cotton plantations and small cities Because of the necessity for cheap labour to pick and seed the cotton Negro slavery took a strong hold there At the outbreak of the American Revolution there were over 500000 slaves in this country with by far the greatest number in the South As time passed plantation owners formed a landed aristocracy The Negroes though slaves gained a measure of economic security On the perimeter of this were the poorer white farmers who either owned small pieces of land or worked as sharecroppers To Kill a Mockingbird is set against this background of 1930 Southern life The Finches are a family who once had a large successful plantation Their ancestors had been aristocratic ladies and gentlemen of the South Now they have been reduced to gentile poverty They are better off by far than the Cunninghams for example who have nothing but their land Atticus Finch is highly respected throughout the community mainly due to his law career There are many different kinds of family life in To Kill A Mockingbird There are white families who are higher and lower class and then black families I think that Harper Lee exaggerates the family hierarchy ie the lower class families are shown as being very poor while the higher-class families are shown to be almost
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