In Chapter Two of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout talks about how the Cunninghams "never took anything they can't pay back--no church baskets and no scrip stamps. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have." She is trying to explain to Miss Caroline, the new teacher in town, that Walter Cunningham will not accept Miss Caroline's offer to lend him a quarter for lunch because he knows he will never be able to pay it back.
Scout, in the same chapter, also recalls that Walter Cunningham's father accepted legal help from Atticus but knew that he could not pay for it with money. Instead, he brought Atticus products from his farm, including wood, hickory nuts, and turnip greens. In addition, although Mr. Cunningham could get a job from the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, a government agency during the Great Depression), he prefers to farm his land as he always has, even though he will face hunger and poverty as a result. The Cunninghams are a proud family and will not accept charity that they cannot repay, and they value tradition, such as keeping their farm, even if it means they will be poor.