Expectations - to Kill a Mockingbird

Topics: Social class, To Kill a Mockingbird, Social stratification Pages: 3 (1240 words) Published: July 25, 2011
The following essay is based on the theme of “Expectations” in the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The novel set during the 1930’s depression in Maycomb south Alabama is based upon the ignorance and prejudice present in society. The theme of ‘expectations’ is an imperative motif which affects the events that occur throughout the novel. Social expectations were rigidly upheld in Southern Alabama in the 1930’s. These expectations determined what behaviours were acceptable for men and women, Caucasians and Negros and different economic classes in society. The social setting in Maycomb County has a profound effect on the expectations in the novel. Initially, all individuals of Maycomb know about each other’s background and upbringing for instance the expectations from families like the Ewells and Cunninghams. An example of this in the novel is when Scout attends her first day of school; Scout’s teacher Miss Caroline, offers Walter Cunningham a quarter when he doesn’t bring any lunch. However, Walter does not take the quarter as he’s a Cunningham and they do not take what they cannot pay back; instead getting along with what they have. Scout tries to explain this to Miss Caroline who was not familiar with certain Maycombian ways. A rigid social stratification of Maycomb County based on race, background and gender also has a profound effect on events in the novel. Because of the background, upbringing, attitudes and behaviours of different individuals in Maycomb; it is expected that they would belong to a certain social class. ‘You know something Scout? I’ve got all figured out, now. I’ve thought about it a lot lately and I’ve got it figured out. There’s four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbours, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes.’ (Chapter 23, 249) Different social classes in Maycomb had different expectations, for instance it was expected...
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