Cunninghams vs Ewells
During the great depression of the1930s there were many families who couldn’t make ends meet. How each family copes with their struggles during hard times, has always been a source of great topics for many writers. One such author is Harper Lee who wrote “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. In the book the author writes of several families, who were going through those hard times. Two of the families in particular stood out for me, the Cunningham and Ewells. Although they did share some things in common they were very different.
The equalities were few, and aside from being from the country, having lots of children and having had trouble with the law, the similarities ended. The Cunninghams were from the outskirts of Maycomb, a place called Old Sarum. Apparently this was land that existed in their family for generations.
They were considered poor by Maycomb’s standards but still tried to make it. Although most of their land had been repossessed and mortgaged, they still owned some. Their land was the primary means of supporting the family and, since money was scarce, many times they would use some of their crops to barter for other necessities or services.
The Cunninghams were very proud and hard working people and accepted nothing that was given to them, unless they earned it. For example Mr. Atticus Finch provided legal services to the Cunninghams and did not expect payment of any kind. Mr. Walter Cunningham, however, brought Atticus various things from his farm throughout the year until he reached a point which he considered fair payment for his services. These actions earned the Cunninghams the notion of being proud and honest people.
The Cunninghams did have a run in with the law one time, which caused several of the boys to be sent to “prison”. The prison was more like a state industrial school, were the boys actually were fed and given an education. Some of them went on to higher education and became professionals. So once again they capitalized on an unfortunate event but, used it to progress.
The Ewells on the other hand, despite being poor country folk, having many children and having trouble with the law were very different from the Cunninghams. They too, lived outside the town of Maycomb, but they lived in an old abandoned Negro’s cabin behind the town dump. They were poor regardless of the economy phases.
The Ewells primary source of income was from relief checks they received from the government. Most of the time Mr. Robert Ewell spent the family money on drinking. The Ewells were truly guests of the county of Maycomb.
The Ewells children had little or no education. In fact the only reason the children went to school was to be able to continue receiving their relief checks. Since the requirement was that the children had to at least show up for the first day of school in order to collect the relief money, they sent their kids to school on the first day and that would be the extent of their school year. They did not make any strides to better themselves and resisted any help which would allow them to do so.
The Ewells were very prejudice. They hated blacks. This is what led to their encounter with the law. But unlike with the Cunninhams, the Ewells were the plaintiffs. They accused an innocent man, Tom Robinson, a Negro, of rape. One time, Tom Robinson, went by the Ewell’s cabin and helped Mayella Ewell with a house chore, only to find an enraged Robert Ewell charging towards the cabin. It was then that Tom Robison was thrown in prison and the Ewells began a trial which ended with the conviction of Tom Robinson and his death. It was clear to all of Maycomb that the Ewells were the type of folk to stay away from and most did. Except for one time when Boo Radley came to the deffense of Jem and Scout Finch who were being attacked by a drunk, Mr. Bob Ewell. On that day Mr. Bob Ewell was found dead. The town sheriff called it an accident and no one was apprehended for his death.
It is easy to see how two families can share some common traits but, be completely different human beings. The Cunninghams down on their luck because of the economy but, still trying to make it in an honest and proud fashion. The Ewells who were completely the opposite. They were lazy, dishonest, uneducated people and happy to live that way.