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The Class and Caste of Maycomb County

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The Class and Caste of Maycomb County "...I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks." (Lee 227). The existence of a superior and inferior stratification in societies are due to economic status, social status, and skin color between the white and black race as demonstrated in To Kill a Mockingbird (Symkowski).Today, this process of identification, while also functioning at the individual level, works itself out at the level of whole groups of people who judge themselves better or worse than other groups, not only in terms of economic property, but also on the basis of such characteristics as skin color, gender, education, sexuality, etc. That each society has such a categorical list is without doubt and Maycomb's society was no different. "There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb..." (131). Maycomb County was based on three main classes and a caste: the prestigious and "rich" of the post-depression era, pursued by the white workers which consisted primarily of farmers, who in turn were followed by what could only be described as "white trash." The caste of Maycomb was the Negroes. Roughly translated, Jem tried to make Scout understand that "there's four kinds of folks in the world. There's the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there's the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, ...read more.


Interestingly, while Lee offered no contradiction to the opinion that Mayella has sinned gravely by kissing a black man, Dolphus' character is portrayed as far more sympathetic (Baecker). The white workers of Maycomb included the Cunninghams, the Littles, Mr. Aavery, Ms. Caroline, Mr. Deas, Mr. Gilmer, Sheriff Tate, and Mr. Underwood. The Cunninghams "...never took anything they can't pay back..." and they were described as "...country folk farmers..." (Lee 20-21). The Littles were represented through Little Chuck Little, one of Scout's classmates who stood up to Burris Ewell in defense of Ms. Caroline. Mr. Aavery was a boarder at the house across from Mrs. Dubose's. Mr. Deas was Tom and Helen Robinson's employer. The state attorney representing the Ewells was Mr. Gilmer. Maycomb's sheriff who accompanied Atticus to kill the mad dog and who delivered the news about Bob Ewell was Sheriff Heck Tate. Mr. Braxton Bragg Underwood was the owner, editor, and printer of The Maycomb Tribune. Although he openly disliked blacks, he defended Tom's right to a fair trial (Symkowski). The "white trash" of Maycomb was the Ewells. The Ewells knew that they were the lowest of the low amongst the whites in Maycomb. They had no money, no education, and no breeding (Baecker). The single thing that elevated them at any level in the community was the fact that they were white. ...read more.


have nothing to do with it. The most prominent Negro figure in the novel was Tom Robinson. The trial of Tom Robinson is a significant part of the text, even if the trial itself occupies only fifteen percent of the novel (Symkowski). What may be more significant than the number of pages devoted to the actual trial may be the way in which Lee has constructed the novel so as to compress the issue of race into a tightly constrained portion of the book, bounded on either side by tales of unfairness and prejudice. The injustice that an all-white jury had invoked upon Tom Robinson and then his being shot seventeen times was the extent of the racism in the post-Depression era. The more sophisticated white people in Maycomb at least tried to pretend that their prejudices did not run so deep, but such was not the case with Bob Ewell. Tom only recognized Mayella as a person in need and he paid dreadfully. Today's equivalent of Tom Robinson is the 'welfare recipient' (Baecker). Mention 'welfare recipient' to most people and the image which will spring to their minds is that of the "welfare queen": overweight, black, female, uneducated, slovenly, and surrounded by a passel of equally dirty, ignorant children. A society is made of its eloquent people and every person should be cared for equivalently. ...read more.

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