To Kill a Mockingbird is an exploration of human morality, and presents a constant conversation regarding the inner goodness or evilness of people. The characters of To Kill a Mockingbird not only struggle with the concepts of good and evil but Scout and Jem spend a great deal of time trying to understand what defines and creates the social hierarchy and the stigma attached. Scout tends to believe that "folks are just folks", whilst Jem is convinced that social standing is related to how long people's relatives and ancestors have been able to write.
Scout understands town's social structure quite clearly when it is presented to her on her first day at school when Walter Cunningham does not have lunch or lunch money. Her classmates ask her to explain to the teacher why Walter won't take a loaned quarter to buy lunch, and she lectures the teacher on the Cunningham's financial situation and how they trade goods for services. Scout and the other children have a very clear understanding of the social inequalities in their town, but they see these inequalities as natural and permanent and a part of society and life. The Finch family stands rather high up in the social hierarchy compared to the Ewell family falls at the bottom. However, this hierarchy only includes the white people. Maycomb's black population falls below all white families in Maycomb, including the Ewells, whom Atticus labels as "white trash".
Scout understands this social structure, but doesn't understand why it is so. She believes that everyone should be treated the same, no matter what family they are from. For instance, when she wants to spend more time with Walter Cunningham, Aunt Alexandra objects saying no Finch girl should ever consort with a Cunningham. Scout is frustrated by this, as she wants to be able to choose her own friends based on her definition of what makes a good person: morality. By Meg, Quotes by Rhylee.

"A white mans word, against a black mans word, the white man always wins" (pg 242)
"The handful of people in this town who say fair play is not marked white only" (pg 261)
"Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed (pg 266)
"Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for" (pg 113)
"Negroes worshipped it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays" (pg 130)
"Mr Finch,if you were a nigger, like me, you'd be scared too (pg 201)
"Well Dil, after all he's just a negre (pg 220)
"The evil assumption that all negroes lie, that all negroes are basically immoral beings , that all negroe men are not to be trusted around woman" (pg 225)

Informal Websites

1930's "Negro" School in America

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1930's "White" School in America

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