What is an example of people making bad choices because they were uneducated that I can use to support my thesis on "how lack of education lead people into bad choices" in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of uneducated people making poor choices involves the Old Sarum bunch's attempted lynching of Tom Robinson. In chapter 15, the Old Sarum bunch arrives at the Maycomb jailhouse in hopes of lynching Tom Robinson before the trial. Fortunately, Atticus is waiting outside of Tom's cell and prevents them from murdering the innocent man. The Old Sarum bunch consists of poor, uneducated farmers, who are part of the Cunningham family and reside in the northern part of the county. The Cunninghams are farmers, who have been negatively affected by the economic crash. Scout mentions that Walter Cunningham, the leader of the Old Sarum bunch, once paid Atticus in stovewood, hickory nuts, and turnip greens because he had no currency. Scout also attends school with Walter Cunningham's son, who is forced to repeat the first grade because he missed too much school. In a conversation during dinner at the Finch home, Walter Jr. mentions that he has to help his father on the farm every spring, which is why he cannot pass onto the next grade. Walter Jr. also does not have a pair of shoes or a packed lunch on the first day of school because his family cannot afford those items. Lack of education is one of the many reasons behind the Old Sarum bunch's attempt on Tom's life. Their lack of perspective, empathy, and understanding contribute to their belief that Tom deserves to die simply because he is a black man accused of a crime. They feel morally superior to African Americans and believe it is their duty to exact justice. If Scout had not affected Walter Cunningham's perspective of the situation, the Old Sarum bunch would have committed murder.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An example of a person who makes a bad choice because she is uneducated and poor is Mayella Ewell.

Despite how much we may dislike Tom Robinson’s accuser, there is plenty of evidence that Mayella is not such a bad person.  She is poor, uneducated, and lonely.  A member of the poverty-embracing Ewell clan, Mayella never had a chance at a normal life.  None of the Ewell children go to school past the first day.  They just stay on their dirt plot near the town dump.

Scout empathizes with Mayella during Tom Robinson’s testimony.

As Tom Robinson gave his testimony, it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. (ch 19)

During the trial, the facts about Mayella’s life come out.  She alone takes care of all of her brothers and sisters.  She has no friends, and does not even seem to know what that means.  Her only company seemed to be Tom Robinson.  She made up chores for him to do just so that she would have someone to talk to.  Everything was fine until she tried to kiss him and her father saw her.  She had nothing to do with accusing him.  She would never have done it if her father had not pulled her along through the process of the rape trial.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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