Essay On Social Class In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Since the beginning of history, humans have organized themselves into social classes. The caste system of India and the modern-day working, middle, and upper classes are two common examples of this. Simply put, people feel more comfortable when they associate with others similar to themselves. When social classes intersect with one another, the result is often conflict. In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, readers are introduced to a class system that often seems arbitrary and unfair, yet forms the basis for how the entire story plays out. Tom Robinson, the Ewells, and the Cunninghams represent three distinctly different social classes and their affects on others’ treatment. As a Black American in 1930s Alabama, Tom Robinson represented the very lowest rung on the social ladder. Negros were considered dirty — an untouchable class. A Black person’s testimony was of no use in court unless accompanied by two agreeable white witnesses. When Tom was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white girl, a lynch mob descended on the jailhouse, bent on serving “justice” before the trial. During Tom’s trial, Atticus suggested that Mayella falsely accused Tom of raping her because she was ashamed of having been sexually attracted to a…show more content…
The wealthiest live on the top floors of skyscrapers, waited on by those of lesser means. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the contrast between the wealthiest and the poorest was not as strong. Social class was instead defined by one’s manners as much as one’s means. The Ewells were a family known and reviled for their coarse ways. They were dishonest and untrustworthy. Atticus Finch described them as “the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations. None of them had done an honest day’s work in his recollection” 33. They survived off welfare, living in a literal dump just up the road from the Negro colony. Viewed as the white outcasts of society, the Ewells embodied the stereotype of white
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