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Text page numbers vary, but you should be able to use my page numbers and chapter numbers to get the page in your book.
The Great Depression hit the small town of Maycomb hard. Scout mentions that it only exists as well as it is because the courthouse is there.
First, Scout notes that no one in Maycomb has any money.
There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. (Ch 1, p. 6)
When Scout asks Atticus if they are poor, he answers that they are.
Jem’s nose wrinkled. “Are we as poor as the Cunninghams?”
“Not exactly. The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest.”
Atticus said professional people were poor because the farmers were poor. As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by for doctors and dentists and lawyers. (ch 2, p. 21)
There is a ripple effect. When farmers are poor, they can’t pay for services. The people who offer services then become poor.
The Ewells, on the other hand, have always been poor and always will be, regardless of the economy.
The United States is in the midst of the Great Depression when To Kill a Mockingbird takes place.
Atticus, Jem, and Scout have a conversation about Mr. Cunningham. She asks her father why the man pays them in firewood, turnip greens, and hickory nuts instead of cash for legal services. Atticus explains why:
"Because that's the only way he can pay me. He has no money."
"Are we poor, Atticus?"
Atticus nodded. "We are indeed."
Jem’s nose wrinkled. "Are we as poor as the Cunninghams?"
"Not exactly. The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest."
Atticus said professional people were poor because the farmers were poor. As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by for doctors and dentists and lawyers... The acres not entailed were mortgaged to the hilt, and the little cash he made went to interest. If he held his mouth right, Mr. Cunningham could get a WPA job, but his land would go to ruin if he left it, and he was willing to go hungry to keep his land and vote as he pleased.
This quote is in Chapter 2. In my book, it is on page 21. Atticus explains to his children why Mr. Cunningham does not have money. He makes very little cash, and he uses what he does have to pay the interest on his mortgage. He has the option of working for the WPA (Works Progress Administration), which was created by President FDR to provide jobs for the unemployed. If he takes a WPA job, he will not be able to work his land. Mr. Cunningham has to make sacrifices to care for his land. Farmers do not have cash, and because of this professional workers cannot be paid in cash. This contributes to their poverty. This is why the Finch family is poor.
Atticus has to leave for an emergency session of the legislature. Financial hardships in the state due to the Depression contribute to the need for the emergency session:
The Governor was eager to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state; there were sit-down strikes in Birmingham; bread lines in the cities grew longer, people in the country grew poorer.
This quote is in Chapter 12. On my book, it is on page 117. Many people are hungry because they are unemployed. They have to wait in long bread lines for food. As the Depression continues, the poverty deepens.
Mrs. Merriweather discusses her maid, Sophy. She mentions that "the only reason [she keeps] her is because this depression's on and she needs her dollar and a quarter every week she can get it." This quote is located in Chapter 24. In my book, it is on page 237. Mrs. Merriweather knows that Sophy may not be able to find work if she lets her go, because jobs are scarce due to the Depression.
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