Social Class in to Kill a Mockingbird: Exposing The Ugly Face of Classism

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About this sample


Words: 677 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 677|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

In Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the theme of social class is intricately woven into the narrative, highlighting the stark differences between the privileged and the marginalized in society. Through the lens of Scout Finch, the young protagonist, Lee explores the deeply rooted divisions of social class and the devastating consequences of classism. This essay will delve into the various manifestations of classism in the novel, examining the attitudes, actions, and prejudices that arise from social stratification. By analyzing specific examples from the text, we will shed light on the harmful effects of classism and its lasting impact on individuals and communities alike.
One of the earliest examples of classism in To Kill a Mockingbird can be seen in the stark contrast between the Finch family and the Cunningham family. The Finches, with their respectable status and comfortable lifestyle, occupy the top tier of Maycomb's social hierarchy. On the other hand, the Cunninghams, who live on the outskirts of town and struggle to make ends meet, are considered to be part of the lower class. This divide is evident in a scene where Walter Cunningham, a member of the lower class, is invited to the Finch household for dinner. Scout, unaware of the social etiquette, criticizes Walter for pouring molasses all over his food. Atticus, Scout's father, intervenes and teaches her a valuable lesson in empathy and understanding. This incident not only highlights the class-based prejudice in Maycomb but also exposes Scout's initial ignorance to the struggles faced by those in lower social strata.
Another striking example of classism in To Kill a Mockingbird is the treatment of the black community by the white population. Maycomb's black community, represented by characters like Calpurnia and Tom Robinson, is systematically oppressed and discriminated against due to their lower social status. Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape, becomes a victim of the deeply ingrained racial prejudices prevailing in Maycomb. Despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, the courtroom, dominated by white individuals, ultimately convicts him solely based on his race. This blatant miscarriage of justice showcases the intersectionality of classism and racism, where the black community is further marginalized due to their economic and social standing.
Additionally, the character of Dolphus Raymond provides a glimpse into the complexities of classism and the façade of social norms. Dolphus Raymond, a wealthy white man who chooses to live with and have children with a black woman, challenges the rigid social expectations of Maycomb. However, to protect himself from judgment and criticism, Raymond pretends to be an alcoholic and uses this perceived weakness as a shield against societal scrutiny. His decision to align with the black community and resist the oppressive class divisions demonstrates the courage and resilience required to defy the norms imposed by a classist society.
The repercussions of classism are not limited to the marginalized; they also affect the privileged class. Aunt Alexandra, a staunch believer in the importance of social class, attempts to instill rigid gender and class roles in Scout. Alexandra's attempts to mold Scout into a "lady" and conform to societal expectations reflect the damaging effects of classism on individuals within the upper echelons of society. Scout's rebellion against these expectations and her refusal to succumb to the confinements of her gender and class reveal her innate understanding of the arbitrary nature of social divisions.

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To Kill a Mockingbird serves as a poignant reminder of the harsh reality of classism and its pervasive influence on society. Through the various characters and their interactions, Harper Lee sheds light on the destructive power of prejudice based on social class. The novel emphasizes the importance of empathy, understanding, and breaking down the barriers imposed by class divisions. As readers, we are compelled to reflect on our own biases and confront the remnants of classism in our own lives. Ultimately, To Kill a Mockingbird challenges us to strive for a more equitable society, where individuals are not judged or limited by their social standing but are instead valued for their inherent worth and humanity.


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Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins, 1960.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Social Class in To Kill a Mockingbird: Exposing the Ugly Face of Classism. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Social Class in To Kill a Mockingbird: Exposing the Ugly Face of Classism.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Social Class in To Kill a Mockingbird: Exposing the Ugly Face of Classism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Social Class in To Kill a Mockingbird: Exposing the Ugly Face of Classism [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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