In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the main themes of racism and social inequality are caused by cultural differences. The book demonstrates the struggles associated with the cultural differences in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1940s. The cultural differences are based on the social classes and hierarchy in Maycomb. At the top of the hierarchy are the relatively well-off Finches, with regular townspeople below them. Then there are farmers like the Cunninghams, and then the poor white people like Ewells and finally the blacks. Examples of cultural differences, which cause problems for the inhabitants of Maycomb, come from almost every character. Cultural differences today are profoundly different from those 70 years ago. Racism is not as prevalent and social inequality is almost nonexistent.
The first instance of social inequality comes on Scout’s first day of school. When Walter Cunningham denies Miss Caroline when she offers him a quarter for lunch, Scout must explain that Cunninghams never take what they can’t pay back. Also a very dirty Burris Ewell curses at Miss Caroline. This reflects the social hierarchy of Maycomb by showing how the Cunninghams and the Ewells poorest white people in the county. Another example of social inequality is Dolphus Raymond’s problems. The inhabitants of Maycomb see Dolphus as an outcast because he married a black woman. Marrying someone of a different race was extremely uncommon at the time.
The biggest example of racism and social inequality was Tom Robinson’s trial. Bob Ewell blames Tom Robinson for the “rape” of his daughter because it would be the most believable story if a black man did it. In the courthouse there is a separate balcony for black people. Tom Robinson was also convicted guilty even after Atticus gives the jury uncontestable evidence proving otherwise. This is the nadir of racism in the county and shows how the county feels towards blacks. Cultural difference not only cause conflict between blacks and whites but also between white people themselves. Atticus and the rest of Maycomb County are at odds because he defends Tom Robinson while everybody else feels that Tom is guilty. This causes many problems for him and his family too.