Social Hierarchy is important in small towns such as Maycomb, Alabama in To Kill A Mockingbird. In little towns you tend to know most of the people that live there, and more about them. There are also more secrets and rumors, and some mysteries, like the Radley’s. The residents in the town may be more cautious about what they say and do because they are insecure, and more people know them. Most people may know the social classes in the town, and where they are on the ladder. From the top of the ladder to the bottom, the social hierarchy for the characters would be Scout Finch, Walter Cunningham, Little Chuck Little, Burris Ewell, Miss Caroline Fisher, and Calpurnia.
At the top of the social structure in the novel are the white men. One of them as which is Atticus Finch, and Scout Finch being is his daughter makes her above the rest. Walter Cunningham is below them. Even though he is a hard worker, he is unable to afford anything, and is considered white trash. He is a farmer, his position is above the African Americans and the Ewells. Just because they were white trash didn’t mean they weren’t always bad people. He is so poor he has to pay Atticus Finch for his work in gifts such as food. “They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have.” (Lee 20)
Little Chuck Little and Burris Ewell are next to each other in the social ladder, but Little Chuck Little is on top. This is because the Ewells are the lowest of the low amongst the whites in Maycomb, they are also called white trash. Burris Ewell is also dirty, and he can be disrespected by others for that, like when Miss Caroline found the cootie in his hair. “I was just walking by when it crawled out of his hair…just crawled out of his hair.” (26) Burris Ewell’s dad is lazy and a drunk, and wasn’t respectful of other people. People don’t really like Burris Ewell, or his dad. Bob Ewell got his family and himself a bad reputation, because that’s what he chose, he reinforced their bad reputation, which shows that he doesn’t care for his children.
Miss Caroline Fisher and Calpurnia are both working women. The only reason Calpurnia is lower on the social structure is simply because she is black. She has all of the qualities of a southern women, she has good manners, and she is respected by the Finch family. She would be in the same social class as Atticus if she wasn’t black. Miss Caroline was not at the top of the ladder, but she wasn’t below Calpurnia. She was in the middle.
The social hierarchy in To kill a Mockingbird is based on race and wealth, and occasionally respect. But the respect comes from race and wealth. If you are white and wealthy you are high on the social structure. If you are black, you are immediately at the bottom of the social ladder. Even though most of the people are poor, some are still higher up then others when it comes to social hierarchy.