Families are very important in To Kill a Mockingbird. In Maycomb being
established in society is very important for the residents of the
town. As are family values. At the beginning of the story Scout
describes how important it is to have a good family history. This
importance of having a good family background is a theme that runs
throughout the book.
" Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the
family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle
of Hastings." (Scout, page 9)
Miss Caroline is regarded with suspicion because she is an outsider.
She is from North Alabama, which is known as a place of industry,
republicans and 'other persons of no background'. She is a foreigner
and because she had no roots in the country she would be frowned upon.
The population of Maycomb has consisted of the same families for
nearly two hundred years. Over this time the families have clear
characteristics that they have inherited. This can often lead to
social division. The rest of the town labels each of the families. In
chapter two Scout tries to explain why Walter Cunningham will not take
her money. She simply says
"Miss Caroline, he's a Cunningham."
Scout thinks that just mentioning his surname will show her that the
Cunnighams will never take anything they cannot pay back because
that's the established characteristic they have built up. Miss
Caroline being an outsider doesn't understand this.
It is important for people in Maycomb to mix with the 'right' families
if you view yourself in the upper classes or in anyway respectable....
... middle of paper ...
...done about it nowadays. It would not be socially acceptable
anymore to lock up your son for being arrested. The communities of
today would not allow it and social workers would think there was
something wrong with the father. Families today are in some way more
like the Radleys. Families today keep more to themselves like the
Radleys but for different reasons. Communities like Maycomb are not so
widespread these days and people don't tend to mix as much with their
community like the people did in the thirties. Families like the
Finches are common. People nowadays are far more broad-minded like
Atticus. Black people are treated equally and the class system is not
so strong but there are still prejudices against people. The
situations today are different but many family values still exist from
the time the story was set.
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