A further issue explored in the book is that of social class. Maycomb is a very class-conscious society with a distinct hierarchy. Older, more established families such as the Finches are considered respectable, whereas the likes of the Ewells are widely regarded as "white trash," or poor whites without money, breeding, or education. Then there are those such as the Cunninghams. They're as dirt poor as the Ewells, but with the big difference that they're hard-working and refuse to take a penny from anyone, whether it's in the form of government handouts or a loan of lunch money from the hapless Miss Caroline.
Social status takes on a grotesquely exaggerated importance for Aunt Alexandra. She has a unique take on the issue, firmly believing that character traits are handed down by family from one generation to the next. Good families such as the Finches will always be good. By the same token, bad families such as the Ewells cannot escape their inherent wickedness.