What can you infer about Walter Cunningham's family's finances in To Kill a Mockingbird? Why?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    The Cunninghams are one of the largest--and poorest--of Maycomb's families in the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. We learn early in the story that they have little cash because Walter Cunningham Sr. has no money to pay Atticus for his legal assistance.

"Mr. Finch, I don't know when I'll ever be able to pay you."
    "Let that be the least of your worries, Walter," Atticus said.

The Cunninghams are farmers and "the acres not entailed were mortgaged to the hilt." Although they are able to grow some crops, they are cash poor. Mr. Cunningham eventually pays Atticus back with hickory nuts, turnip greens, stovewood and holly.
    Young Walter Jr. comes to school with no lunch and refuses to accept a quarter from Miss Caroline because "he's probably never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life." (Why Walter has no fresh vegetables for lunch is not explained.) When he comes to the Finch's for lunch, he eats ravenously, piling food on his plate and

"... syrup on his vegetables and meat. He would have probably poured it into his milk glass if I had not asked what the sam hill he was doing."

The Cunninghams are a poor but honest Depression Era family who make ends meet through hard work.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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