Regarding the upper class, Aunt Alexandra is a huge influence on the events of the novel. She has racial prejudice views that she tries to enforce on the Finch family which causes some negativity in the household and an antagonist view upon her own character. She feels as though the Finches are civil and are of higher stance so she wants her whole family to look as such regarding clothing, presence, and attitude towards other races lower than the whites. She depicts such racial views to her niece and nephew and neither really appreciate her views. She mentions how someone poorer than the Finches should not even associate with them, such as the Cunninghams. As she states, “The thing is, you can scrub Walter Cunningham till his shoe shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit but he’ll never be like Jem.” Alexandra thinks of Walter as low class and how he’ll never rise up to the stance to be like Jem, who is richer and civilized. Aunt Alexandra states further how “Finch women aren’t interested in those kind of people,” mainly referring to the Cunninghams.
She forbids Scout from being friends with Walter because he is of lower class and shouldn’t associate with trashy folks. She even tells Atticus to fire Cal, the housemaid and mainly not because of race, but because she is uncivilized and if she is around the Finches, then they themselves would become uncivilized if one were to be amongst them. The lower classes of the town of Maycomb were the Ewells and the African Americans.
Lee gives a description of the Ewells as such with “no economic fluctuations changed their status-people like the Ewells lived as guests of the county in prosperity as well as in the depths of a depression.” She describes them as low class and how they are quite ostracized from everyone else. Seen as outsiders, they are the lowest of low to white folks. They are seen as white trash.
Lee goes on to say how they lived behind the town’s garbage dump, showing how people view the Ewells because of their run down place and their bad living conditions. It shows the contradiction of the Finches and the Ewells upper class and lower class, how the Finches have a nice home while the Ewells have a run down place by the garbage, depicting even what they are, white trash. However, no matter how low of class they may be and how poor they are, Tom Robinson will still be found guilty because he is black.
At no fault of his own, Tom is a black man who is accused of raping a white woman, and a white jury cannot just ignore a white woman. The guilty verdict was depicted because a white man was going against a black man, and in that stance alone, the African Americans were lower than the whites in the town of Maycomb. Therefore, Tom was automatically guilty despite the piling evidence that he couldn’t have done it. It was a matter of Mayella actually assaulting Tom and wanting to kiss him, however once her father saw her kissing a black man, he beat her and corecered her to say Tom brutally beat and raped her. She even states in fear of her father beating her further, “He took advantage of me an’ if you fancy gentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ ’bout it then you’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, the lot of you” (Lee 251). She commits perjury in fear that her father will beat her more if she told the truth that her only crime was that she kissed a black man and Tom was only there at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong color skin.
Her outburst to the jury and her sudden tears manipulated them into finding Tom guilty, as she is a white woman in distress because of a black man. This depiction of societal separation abused the event of Tom’s wrongful conviction of rape due to the fact that he was black. In conclusion, Mayella and Tom did not commit any wrongdoing. Tom had went over to her house because he felt sorry for her and as kind as he is, he just helped her because as mentioned, he was a black man who is less than her, regarding stance and economic class. Therefore, he had to obey her when she called for him to come into her home to allegedly help her with something and when he did, she grabbed him and kissed him. Shocked and scared, Tom backed away and tired to leave, but as he ran, Bob Ewell caught them in the act and beat Mayella for it. Despite this evidence and how Tom has a disabled left hand due to a childhood accident, he couldn’t have committed the heinous crime.
But, due to him being a black man, lower than all of the whites, rich or poor, a white mans word will always be preferred and triumphant over an African Americans.