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Atticus has great respect for the Cunninghams. Both the Ewells and the Cunninghams were poor, but they handled it differently. The Ewells were third generation welfare folk, and they lived off the government. They broke the law concerning hunting because the father was always gambling.
In contrast the Cunningham's were farmers. Atticus explains to Scout that
"The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest." (pg 21)
Even Scout, at the age of nine, knows that the Cunninghams were proud people. She explains to Miss Caroline,
"The Cunninghams never took anything they can't pay back ---no church basket and no scrip stamps. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have. They don't have much, but they get along on it." (pg 20)
Atticus respects this. When Walter comes for lunch, Atticus talks to him as if he is an adult. They discuss farm problems, and Walter tells Atticus that the reason he did not finish first grade was because,
"I've had to stay out ever' spring an' help Papa with the choppin' but there's another'n at the house now that's field size." (pg 24)
Atticus realizes that Walter has had to grow up too fast. He respects what he has done and expects Scout to respect it too.
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