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Why does Aunt Alexandra accept that the Cunninghams may be good but are not "our kind...

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oopdershnoop | eNoter

Posted March 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM via web

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Why does Aunt Alexandra accept that the Cunninghams may be good but are not "our kind of folks"? 

Do you think that people should mix only with others of the same social class and/or race? Are class/race-divisions good or bad for societies? Please answer the following questions using support from the text.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM (Answer #2)

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Scout's Aunt Alexandra is very proud of her family heritage. Simon Finch was one of the earliest settlers in the area, and Alexandra is proud of several other past family members (though she tended to exaggerate about their credentials). She was fond of sayings like "What Is Best for the Family" and "Fine Folks," but she tended to dwell on the negative side of people in most of her conversations. In Alexandra's mind, the Finches ranked at the top of the social scale, and few other families could compare. She directs Atticus to explain to his children about the family's generations of "gentle breeding," and how "you are not from run-of-the-mill people." The Cunninghams, however, were run-of-the-mill people. As Alexandra explained,

"... they're good folks. But they're not our kind of folks."

The Cunninghams were poor, and they had

"a drinking streak in them a mile wide."

Scout was still curious about why her aunt specifically disliked the Cunninghams, and Alexandra finally--and angrily--came to the point.

"I'll tell you why," she said. "Because--he--is--trash, that's why you can't play with him. I'll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what."

They may not have been the same kind of trash as the Ewell family--"the disgrace of Maycomb"--but they were not fit to mix with Finches, at least in Alexandra's mind.

id not fit in with Alexandra's

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM (Answer #3)

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Alexandra accepts it for two reasons. It is what she has been taught, and it is what she wants to believe in order to continue to feel superior. Atticus grew up in the same social environment as Alexandra, but he does not for a minute accept the idea that he or anyone else is superior to others by the circumstances of birth. Atticus teaches his children by word and deed that personal integrity is important; social class is not.

Are divisions by race or class good for society? Of course not. They weaken society. People with talent and intelligence are denied opportunity when they are relegated to a "lower class." The contributions they could have made to society are lost. Separating people by race or class destroys real communication, creating misunderstanding, prejudice, and hatred. These results are all shown in the novel, many times over. "United we stand; divided we fall." A deeply divided society cannot stand for very long. It must change or perish. There is hope in the novel because even a little town like Maycomb can and will change; men like Atticus who raise children like Jem and Scout will make it happen.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 28, 2011 at 5:01 AM (Answer #4)

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I think it is quite clear that this novel is a lament about the damage done to societies and communities by social class and similar divisions. The impact of such man made structures is that they build symbolic walls between groups of people, allowing barriers to be build, suspicions to be raised and true communication to become very difficult, if not impossible. This novel is a call for unity and a plea for us to look beyond such man-made social divisions.

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aak71994 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 1, 2011 at 5:47 PM (Answer #5)

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Alexandra accepts it for two reasons. It is what she has been taught, and it is what she wants to believe in order to continue to feel superior. Atticus grew up in the same social environment as Alexandra, but he does not for a minute accept the idea that he or anyone else is superior to others by the circumstances of birth. Atticus teaches his children by word and deed that personal integrity is important; social class is not.

Are divisions by race or class good for society? Of course not. They weaken society. People with talent and intelligence are denied opportunity when they are relegated to a "lower class." The contributions they could have made to society are lost. Separating people by race or class destroys real communication, creating misunderstanding, prejudice, and hatred. These results are all shown in the novel, many times over. "United we stand; divided we fall." A deeply divided society cannot stand for very long. It must change or perish. There is hope in the novel because even a little town like Maycomb can and will change; men like Atticus who raise children like Jem and Scout will make it happen.

social classes are what give people the motivation to work for what they want. without that, people wont want to get better if they know they cant. a person is naturally born to want. and all people want to progress in life. just in different ways. that creates classes. the formation of a class in society is inevitable.

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