In Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, she shows socio-economic prejudice that happened in Maycomb through the Cunninghams, the Ewell’s, and Tom Robinson’s community. This ranges from the courtroom to everyday life and the people of Maycomb seem to be at ease with this. This ideal changes as Scout and Jem learn more about their town’s makeup. They learn this twisted culture through the actions of the Cunninghams, the Ewells, and Tom Robinson’s Community.
The Cunningham family is a family in Maycomb that is on the poorer side of the spectrum but still act accordingly to normal morality. Scout, the main character, is so aware of the social classes the when a Cunningham is invited to dinner she refuses to be kind and make peace with her guest saying “‘he’s just a Cunningham—’” Before this, when Walter, the Cunningham boy, didn’t have lunch the new teacher was trying to understand why his parents would send him to school without food. Eventually she decided to kindly give him money for food, but even after this gesture he wouldn’t accept the money. The explanation of his being a Cunningham was understood by the whole class. That statement is proven true when Scout says, “The Cunninghams never took anything they can’t pay back—no church baskets and no scrip stamps. They never took anything from anybody, they get along on what they have. They don’t have much, but they get along on it.” (Lee 20) This infers that there is an economic situation connected to your family name. Even furthermore the main character, Scout, fights Walter Cunningham because to her it’s a matter of honor and since he is in a lower class (for being a Cunningham) she must show dominance over him. This view on the world is be entirely and false, nevertheless, this thinking is shown again and again in this novel. You can actually see that a few years before the events in the story that this family was doing well or at least better because when Atticus, the father of Jem and Scout, explains why the Cunninghams are poor he says The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash (The Great Depression) hit them hardest.” (Lee 21) Although the Cunninghams as a whole are not the main antagonists, they do have some antagonistic moments. An example of this is when in the middle section of the book, the Cunninghams try to steal Tom from the jail to lynch him.
The Ewells are the main “antagonists” in the story. They are “… the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations. None of them had done an honest day’s work in his (Atticus) recollection.” (Lee 31) This shows that the town doesn’t exclude people of their own “kind” based on extremely unlawful and inhumane acts which will be covered later. They are also allowed to use loopholes in the law being described as members of the own club where everyone ignores what they do. Atticus’s house, the courtroom, the school, and the Ewell’s house could be compared to smaller towns unto their own, all with a web of relationships, such as Maycomb, with hidden signals as well as discrimination based on gender, race, class, and age. An example of this is how Mr. Bob Ewell is exempt from seasonal trapping laws because their family is so violent and volatile that even the sheriff doesn’t want to confront them. When Bob Ewell confronts Atticus about the trial he calmly and peacefully stands as Mr. Ewell curses and spit in his face, his reaction to this was to wipe his face with a handkerchief and let Bob Ewell continue to call him names. Doing this he not only saved the town from an angry man but from a dangerous menace. Also, the family has a lack of education which could be responsible for their actions. ““He’s one of the Ewells, ma’am,” …. “Whole school’s full of ‘em. They come first day every year and then leave. The truant lady gets ’em here cause she threatens ’em with the sheriff,” (Lee 27) is how the Ewell’s kids are described at the PTC for the repeated action of coming the first day and never again for the rest of the year. Burris Ewell was actually proud of this saying, “Been comin‘ to the first day o’ the first grade fer three year now,” he said expansively. “Reckon if I’m smart this year they’ll promote me to the second…” (Lee 27) This shows how little he has been exposed to normal school promotion. All these factors and more show why the Ewells should be ranked lower than a hard-working black person, but instead it’s the opposite because of the unchanging hard cast social system of Maycomb. If Atticus is not capable of convincing the jury, the Ewells, or anyone else to act in accordance with morality, and peace, could it then be said the task of trying is futile? And therefore, it is stated that “…the Ewells hate and despise colored folks.” this is because they know they’re morally the worst people in town and are reminded of it every time a colored person walks by.
The Minorities in this book are all expressed through one character, and his name is Tom Robinson. “His name’s Tom Robinson. He lives in that little settlement beyond the town dump.” (Lee 41) This show that the town has outcasted the minorities to an area farther than even the town dump. One of the problems in “To Kill Mockingbird” is that from the start it’s shows Atticus’s actions towards Tom’s case will be mostly useless. This is because of what philosophers call the “idle argument”, which means that do actions become useless once the result is set in stone? Tom Robinson’s trial reveals the racial divisions of the south and the ideals that hold them apart and through the death of an innocent black and the hiding of a terrible man’s reputation Scout and Jem gain a new sight on the prejudices that exist in Maycomb. The story of Tom Robinson is used as the driving force for Harper Lee’s social shaming and disapproval in the novel. Maycomb is shown in its darkest manner, easily able to murder an innocent black man for a verdict he didn’t deserve, instead of changing the stereotype of black inferiority and social likings about relationships.
Conclusively, the previous section shows the socio-economic prejudice that was shown and given to the Ewells, the Cunninghams, and the community of Tom Robinson. This prejudice is a bludgeoning scar and one of the most hate-rooted ideals in Maycomb. This discrimination shown in the novel is linked to how society behaved and carried themselves during the time Harper Lee wrote this book.