The Effect of Social Hierarchy in
To Kill A Mockingbird
Social classing systems, also known as social hierarchy have been around since the beginning of time. In such a system those of the upper class take advantage of the classes below them; whether it is kings and their servants or a boss and their workers. This social hierarchy has a profound effect on society and the events in Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird. There are four classes in Maycomb; they are distinguished in the Tom Robinson case and in the crowd who attend his trial. Due to the social structure of Maycomb, Tom Robinson, a black man, is unjustly accused and convicted of a crime he does not commit.
The society of Maycomb has four definite class structures, which the town’s people abide by. The fist and highest level is that of the white collar Caucasians, such as the Finch's and their neighbours; they are well respected. Next, are the blue collar, white workers such as farmers, the Cunninghams or even Mr. Link Deas; the people who work but still struggle to make ends meet. In order for the narrator to understand their financial situation her father, Atticus, explains to her “… [P]rofessional people were poor because the farmers were poor. As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by for doctors and dentists and lawyers.” (Lee, 21). The last two levels, in order, are those of the white trash and the Negros; white trash, are people who are very poor and are not very respected or respectful. Although some Negros may be more respectful than white trash, they are still at the bottom of the system, and are treated worse than white trash. Even Atticus' children understand these four levels as Jem explains "You know something, Scout? I’ve got it all figured out, now... There’s 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...
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