|To Kill A Mockingbird - Background
The USA (and Canada) share some history (but not all). Part that is shared is the background of settlement by persecuted groups from Europe and elsewhere. The USA also carries the disgraceful history of slavery and its sequellae evident today (such as the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles and the riots following.) Canada is not squeaky-clean in this regard: Some slaves were brought to Canada by their (usually British) owners, but the condition of slavery could not be passed on here by birth.
American society in small towns reflects the history of many founding groups, which is one of persecution and resulting suspicion. Outsiders are not welcome (except as tourists who look and leave). Social constructs and methods are deep and unchanging. Some laws are only observed in the breach rather than the main (and the attempted lynching of Tom Robinson by a mob of local men is demonstration of this fact).
Maycomb, and the society it reflects, does exist in the mind (but not in reality). Take a look at some of the sites suggested by the links set up in this site, and be sure to use the "Student Survival Guide" for To Kill A Mockingbird as you work your way through the text.
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