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Atticus treats Walter Cunningham the same way that he treats everyone -- with respect and equality. The reason this trait is notable, however, is because of its stark contrast with the majority of Maycomb. Most of the town view people by their status in society, not recognizing equality because they are all part of the human race. Thus, prejudice, racism, and partiality are rampant. However, Atticus believes that all men are truly created equal, though we may interact differently. Atticus recognizes that the Cunninghams, as poor farmers hit hard by the Depression, are not able to pay for services in a conventional way. So, Atticus lets Walter pay him how Walter can -- in goods and trades. This arrangement shows Atticus' sense of fairness and equality, as well as his compassion for people and their situations. We also see that Walter is a hard worker, and a man who wants to live without debt or hand-outs. Walter is a hard worker, and a man of integrity, who doesn't take what he cannot repay.
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