Does Atticus help out Walter Cunningham? If so, then how?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Yes, Atticus does "help out" Walter Cunningham, but Cunningham is not the type of man who will accept charity.

Whenever one reads a novel, it is important to continuously consider the characters within the setting that the author has created. With the setting of the 1930s in Harper Lee's novel, there are two major factors: the Great Depression and the Jim Crow South.

Mr. Walter Cunningham comes to Atticus Finch for his legal affairs--his "entailments"--and because he, like so many others, has no cash money, he pays Mr. Finch with produce from his farm, such as a bag of potatoes, etc.

As the Cunninghams had no money to pay a lawyer, they simply paid us with what they had. (Ch. 2)

Mr. Cunningham is too self-motivated and proud to become a dependent of the government and work for the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, a program that paid unemployed people to carry out public works projects (e.g. the Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority, etc.) instituted by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Although poor, Mr. Cunningham stands in sharp contrast to the shiftless Bob Ewell, who willingly submits himself and his family to being dependent upon government relief checks, even wasting the money on drink and neglecting his children.


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