What are some examples of differences in social classes in To Kill a Mockingbird ?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem is right on target when he explains his belief that there are "four types of people." There are regular people, like the Finches and their neighbors; there are poor but honest people like the Cunninghams; there are poor but dishonest people like the Ewells; and there are Negroes. Obviously, Jem's view is not a worldly one, but it is fairly accurate for his little world of Maycomb.

  • African-Americans are on the bottom of the social ladder with virtually no distinguishing differences between them; they are outcasts to the white community and live in the Quarters just outside town.
  • The Ewells are pretty much alone in their status as "the disgrace of Maycomb." They rank above Negroes, but just barely, and they live outside town between the dump and the Quarters.
  • Poor but honest people like the Cunninghams are numerous and may actually be the largest social class in Maycomb. Their honesty and willingness to work is probably all that separates them from the Ewells and, according to Jem, they are mostly rural, living outside the city limits.
  • People like us--like the Finches and their neighbors--are at the top of Jem's social scale. They are friendly, have nice little houses in town, and have similar tastes and beliefs.

There are several characters who don't fit into any of these groups, however. Boo Radley, though a neighbor, is hardly like Jem and Scout. Dolphus Raymond, a white man who lives with blacks, is certainly the biggest outcast. His wealth would put him at the top of the town's social chart, but his love of the black man (and woman) drops him considerably in the minds of Maycombians.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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