Who were the Cunningham boys in To Kill a Mockingbird, and what happened to them? What is the irony here?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the Cunningham boys were a rowdy tribe of poor farmers who enjoyed drinking and pulling pranks. The Cunningham boys and Boo Radley pulled a prank by locking Mr. Conner in the courthouse outhouse. They received several charges for their prank, and the probate judge sent them to the state's industrial school, where they received the best secondary education in the state. The irony is that their punishment actually benefitted them greatly.

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The Cunningham boys hailed from a poor farming family in Old Sarum, and Scout describes them as an "enormous and confusing tribe domiciled in the northern part of the county." The Cunningham boys were known for their rowdy behavior and caused a minor stir throughout the town of Maycomb. They enjoyed drinking whiskey, gambling, attending local dances, and pulling harmless pranks. Arthur "Boo" Radley got involved with the Cunningham boys as a teenager and was present when they locked Mr. Conner, Maycomb's ancient beadle, in the courthouse outhouse.

The Cunningham boys and Boo Radley were charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and assault and battery for their prank. The probate judge decided to send the boys to the state industrial school, which provided them with food and decent shelter. The Cunningham boys received the best secondary education in the state, and one of them eventually earned an engineering degree at Auburn.

The irony is that their punishment turned out to benefit them greatly. Unfortunately, Mr. Radley considered the state's industrial school a disgrace and refused to enroll Boo. Instead, Mr. Radley assured the judge that Boo would cause no further trouble and kept him secluded in the house for decades. Essentially, only Boo Radley suffered the consequences, and the Cunninghams reaped the benefits of being sent to the industrial school.

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