How do the class divisions in Maycomb influence events in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Class divisions in Maycomb are based on race and family heritage. The major event in the novel, the conviction of Tom Robinson for a crime that never occurred, resulted from racism. As an African-American, Tom was consigned to the lowest social class in Maycomb. Despite the heroic efforts of Atticus to defend Tom in court and despite the fact that Atticus proves beyond any doubt that Tom was innocent, he was convicted by a white jury that could not bring themselves to free him after he had been accused by a white woman. If Tom had been white, the case never would have come into court. Racism also accounted for the incident in which the mob comes to the jail to lynch Tom before his trial began.
Alexandra's preoccupation with family heritage influenced several minor events in the story. Her refusal to let Scout play with little Walter Cunningham caused Scout great pain, anger, and frustration, not to mention great confusion as she tried to sort out the class divisions in her town. Also as the result of Alexandra's sense of class division, Atticus attempts to explain what it means to be "a Finch" to his children. After a short time, though, he gives up, thus rejecting Alexandra's view of class distinctions.