What is meant by the term "poor white trash" in To Kill a Mockingbird?  How do the Ewells exemplify this stereotype?  Does this stereotype exist today? How has it changed?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The term "white trash" actually dates back to the nineteenth century. It refers to the rural poor of the United States, and most commonly to those living in the South. It reflects a sense of class discrimination as deeply embedded in the fictional Alabama town of Maycomb as racial discrimination. Blacks, "white trash", and middle class whites all live in clearly demarcated sections of the town, with the Ewells' home located near the garbage dump, something that symbolizes their role as "trash."

The Ewell family is considered white trash for multiple reasons. First, they are poor, but the class concept of white trash encompasses more then just poverty. They rely on public assistance rather than being among the working poor, and their house, both inside and out, is dirty and poorly maintained. The children of the family are allowed to "run...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 416 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team