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Harper Lee decided to set the novel in the Depression era of the 1930s. The main character, Scout, is based on Lee's own childhood, and Dill is most likely based on her childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote. By placing her novel in the 1930s, Lee provided her readers with a historical background for current events of the time, and in doing so she exposed the deeply rooted history of the civil rights struggle in the South.
In Chapter One, Scout describes Depression-era Maycomb as "an old tired town when I first knew it", summer heat and slow pace of life. She notes, "There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County".