Social Injustice VS Social Class

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“You know something, Scout? I’ve got it all figured out, now. I’ve thought about it a lot lately and I’ve got it figured out. There’re four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes' Through an innocent child, Jem in 'To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee awakens the thoughts and feelings of the reader on the injustice delivered by the society in the form of social status. Social status divides people and their hearts into social classes based on their economic status or family lineage rather than their character or behavior. Though the word, social status looks small and has a straight meaning, it is soaked in the blood of several innocent lives for generations. With the innocent tone of an innocent child, Lee cleverly directs the story towards the fact that innocent people are... Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a symbolism of innocent black people who are very friendly with the whites but mistakenly punished just the same way as killing the mocking birds.

To start, Lee chooses Scout, an eight-year-old girl, as the narrator of the inspiring story of To Kill a Mockingbird. The story takes place during the unfriendly times of Great Depression in the 1930's, when the Nation was hit by poor economic conditions and social tensions. The beginning words from Scout, which actually are from Lee, are delivered to the reader with this intention. One would understand this from Scout’s words, “There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.” When we dive deeply into Jem’s thoughts about social class, one would derive the social organization of Maycomb, a small town in Alabama, based on their color, economic conditions and family lineage. Though Maycomb is not the only place practicing this culture, Lee used it as an example to illustrate the negative effects of racism and social inequality prevailing in the country in those days. Blacks are considered as slaves and in other words they are the last level of social hierarchy. Whites are always assumed superiors to the blacks and there’s a social structure within whites too. Atticus is a lawyer working in the legislature and as a result he falls into the higher class. Cunningham’s, who are poor farmers fall into the second level. The bottom level of the social class in the whites in Ewells and for that reason they live in the outskirts of the town with the Negroes. Scout’s first finding about the differences in treating the people by social class is when she comes across a student named Walter Cunningham in her class who belongs to Cunninghams. Scout learns from Atticus that Cunninghams are the respectable farmers in the society who get along with their earnings and never borrow money from others. Atticus helps Cunninghams in resolving one of the Land cases and he doesn’t accept money from Cunninghams. Cunninghams always try to payback the help that they get from others and henceforth, they return more than what they owe to Atticus in some other form. As an innocent child with more immature feelings, Scout Asks Atticus 'Are we as poor as the Cunninghams?' (Lee 27). From the words of Scout, Lee, tries to inform the reader how social class reflects economic status of Cunninghams. Though Scout is the Protagonist of the story, Atticus Finch is the driver of the story and in addition he’s an anti-racist. Atticus, without delay, tries to correct Scout’s vision by making her understand that Cunningham’s economic status is not the cause for their social class. It is important to realize that Cunninghams are respectable farmers who own lands but they are going through tough times. According to Atticus, Cunninghams are rich compared to the other professionals since there is less scope of earning for the high-level professionals in the small town like Maycomb. This implies that the social structure is derived not only based on the person’s economic conditions but also based on their occupation.

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Meanwhile other characters aid in adding more fuel to the burning issue of social injustice and build more curiosity in the story. 'Jean-Louise, there's no doubt in my mind that they're good folks. But they're not our kind of folks. (Lee 299) ' Aunt Alexandria says these words when Jem wants to invite Walter Cunningham for dinner. People are hesitant to invite lower class people for dinner since they strictly adhere to the rules of the society and never go against them. But subconsciously, every person knows that men are born equally on the earth but not everyone is brave enough to express their thoughts. With this in mind Aunt Alexandria, though having good opinion on Cunninghams, shows her concern about inviting them for dinner. Scout, being a child with unbiased thinking sees equality in human beings ““I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” Jem too thinks the same and couldn’t understand why people have prejudices towards others. 'If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? ' At this instant, Lee, once again stresses existing problem of Social inequality. Ewells are at the bottom of whites and are almost equivalent to the blacks. Atticus refers to as “White Trash”, since they have very poor social skills, ill manners, indecent language, unhealthy habits, rude public behavior and they add no value to the white society. Their children very rarely attend school. They live on the other side of the tracks with Negros community. Bob Ewell, being the Antagonist in To Kill a Mockingbird, becomes the cause of the conflict in the story by accusing a Negro for raping his daughter Mayella Ewell on false grounds. Bob exhibits his villain characteristics in many occasions thereby strongly getting disliked by the reader.

With attention to Ewells, Lee, slowly drives the story towards a more serious mode when the problem of social inequality becomes monstrous and takes the life of an innocent Negro. Tom Robinson is a black man who works in the cotton fields in Maycomb and is a person with good heart. Helping people in need is a Tom’s daily duty and for the same reason he was at Bob Ewell’s house to help his daughter Mayella Ewell. Due to a series of unfortunate events, he is accused of raping Mayella Ewell and attends trial. Atticus names the case as an “impossible” since the accused is not guilty. Not only Atticus, everyone in the courtroom knows that this is a case caused by the social inequality and discrimination. Whites always win over blacks. “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.” Atticus says this since no evidence or medical examination are considered during the trial and there are extremely high chances of pleading Tom Robinson as guilty. If the case is filed by a white on a black, then everyone knows the verdict in advance. This is the major flaw in the law due to social layering and the people supporting the social class. Being at the bottom level of the social hierarchy, blacks have no right to speak the truth or complain about the pain caused by the whites. “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable.” Atticus’ irony in his words points at the fact that the whites can override the social rules and in contrast, blacks have no option but to strictly follow them. Though Atticus tries his best to bring social inequality due to social divisions into light and prove that it is the cause for Tom Robinson’s accusation, the Jury being made of whites pleads Tom Robinson as guilty. Tom Robinson tries to get out of prison and gets shot by the authorities. He is dead for two reasons. One for being shot and second for being black. “. Cry about the simple hell people give other people- without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people too.” Atticus’ closing argument in the court makes the reader think, think again and rethink about evil nature of social class and how it caused distress to an innocent person’s family. Tom Robinson’s story is just one of many painful deaths caused by the unwritten social laws.

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” Scout says this to Jem when they noticed differences in the Maycomb’s social hierarchy. Scout is always being brainstormed by Atticus about human values and relationships with the fellow beings on this earth. Her words came straight from her heart this time. She tells what she thinks. She expresses what she understands but adds a little innocence to the way she expresses. When a child, without any thought, expresses her feelings about human inequality in this society, why does Maycomb worry about social classes. People are born alike and share resources of the planet. Why are there differences in their privileges then? Mockingbird is a metaphor used by Lee that represents innocent people who have no idea about the social classes and divisions in Maycomb. All they care about is humanity. Though blacks have no place on the social organization of Maycomb, they are treated as below lower class in the society.

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Social Injustice VS Social Class. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Social Injustice VS Social Class.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Social Injustice VS Social Class. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Social Injustice VS Social Class [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:

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