In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, there are two main incidents that contribute to the picture of Maycomb society. These incidents are the mad dog episode and the fire at Miss Maudie’s place. These two incidents create two different views of Maycomb society.
The fire at Miss Maudie’s place demonstrates how the community works together and how much its members depend on each other. It is not only the Fire Service attempting out put out the blazing fire “We stood watching the street fill with men and cars” The men and cars have not only come form this neighbourhood but from all over Maycomb town and further.
The fire creates quite a stir and shows how Maycomb society pulls together in a time of need and that even a mean man as Nathan Radley helps recover Miss Maudie’s belongs from the fire.
During the fire, Scout had a close encounter with Boo with realising. At this point Boo’s love for the children is noted when he places the blanket on Scout’s shoulders. It is obvious that Boo had done it, since Nathan Radley had been near Miss Maudie’s house helping put out the fire. From this, it appears that Boo is looking out for Scout and Jem. Boo also does this so that he feels he is doing his bit for the community even though he is almost an outcast in society. This then prepares the reader for part two of the novel in which Boo saves the children. This shows he has always been looking out for them and so when he saves the children it doesn’t come as a shock.
Despite the fact that her entire house in razed to the ground Miss Maudie is still not disturbed and has recovered her sharp sense of humour. Her plans of setting up a new house, large enough to room her azaleas, ” I’ll have more room for my azaleas now!” portrays her as a practical and worldly woman who is a valued and important part of Maycomb society.
Before the mad dog incident scout spends, her time looking for things that Atticus can “do.” She and her brother mistakenly assume that “doing something” means being able to hunt or play football. They don’t realize that Atticus is capable of so many things beyond that of physical activities and that his strengths lie in areas not stereotypically considered manly. However, Atticus demonstrates he has more abilities than his children give him credit. He proves this point in the mad dog confrontation. The children learn a lesson from this which is that courage is not always shooting a gun or doing something physical. When Calpurnia sees the mad dog, she runs inside and telephones to inform the whole town. This is another example of the community in Maycomb society.
One day while Scout and Jem are out hunting, something happens that proves to them once and for all that their father’s philosophy of non-violence does not come from weakness. Jem spots a mad dog heading for the street where the Finches live. The dog’s odd behaviour shows that it has rabies, a disease that is fatal, not just to the animal but to a person bitten by it. Calpurnia orders the children indoors and alerts the neighbourhood. Soon the sheriff, Heck Tate, arrives with Atticus. Nevertheless, when the moment comes to shoot the dog, the sheriff hands his rifle over to Atticus, with the comment that Atticus is the only marksman who could be sure to put the animal out of its misery safely with a single shot. This is the first hint the children have ever had that their father was once known as “One-Shot Finch,” the best hunter in Maycomb County.
Miss Maudie later tells Jem and Scout that Atticus gave up hunting long ago because he felt that his natural talent for shooting gave him an “unfair advantage over most living things.” Jem is delighted. “Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!” Jem shouts, meaning that they are both right to avoid fighting and violence. This explanation of Atticus exposes most of Maycomb to be doing wrong with their socially accepted ways. This shows contrast between the fire and this scene as it illustrates that not all aspects of Maycomb society that are good.