To Kill A Mockingbird

In the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, there are two

families that are textbook examples of complete opposites on the moral ladder,

and in the community. The Cunninghams and the Ewells have two distinctly

different reputations. The Cunninghams, although extremely poor, are highly

respected throughout Maycomb County. The Ewells, being just as poor as the

Cunninghams, are deeply despised.

The Cunninghams are very respected by the citizens of Maycomb. They

take nothing, unless they can pay it back, and that is virtually nothing. On the

first day of school, the youngest of the Cunningham family, Walter, had no

lunch. The new teacher didn't know the ways of Maycomb, or the Cunninghams.

She tried to offer Walter money to buy lunch, and could not comprehend why he

could not accept. Scout tries to explain to Ms. Caroline, "Walter's one of the

Cunninghams, Ms. Caroline...The Cunninghams never took nothin' they can't give

back-no church baskets, no scrip stamps. They never took nothing off anybody,

they get along with what they have. They don't have much, but they get along on

it." Walter knew he could not pay back the quarter, so he did not take it.

On that same first day of class, Bob Ewell's son Burris also had an

altercation with Miss Caroline. She asked him to go home and wash his hair with

lye soap, and then treat his scalp with kerosene to get rid of the "cooties." Burris

would have none of it. He told Miss Caroline that he was on the virge of leaving

anyway. When Miss Caroline questioned his response, one member of the class

tried to explain, "He's one of the Ewells ma'am. Whole school's full of 'em.

They come the first day every year and then leave. The truant lady gets 'em here

'cause she threatens 'em with the sheriff.... You're supposed to mark 'em absent

the rest of the year." Burris' father was a uncaring, jobless, drunk, who never

even pretended to care about the education or well being of his many children.

Walter Cunningham(Sr.), along with most whites before the trial,

believed Tom Robinson to be guilty. He showed up at the jail where Tom

Robinson was being held, with all intentions to kill Tom. After a one sided

conversation with Scout, Mr. Cunningham realizes that he has no reason to be at

the jail, and has even less of a reason to use his rifle. Bob Ewell cost Maycomb

two lives, while Mr. Cunningham, at least for a while, saved one.

Among the many things Bob Ewell had little value for, human existence

proved to be right at the top. After finding his daughter Mayella kissing Tom

Robinson (a black man), Bob accused Tom of raping and beating his daughter,

though he had done it himself. After being found guilty, Tom Robinson was shot

while supposedly trying to escape. All Bob Ewell could think about however

was the fact that his word was held in only a slightly higher standing than that of a

black man. He tried to kill Scout and Jem for retribution against Atticus, but

eventually was killed himself by Aurthur "Boo" Radley.