May 10, 2014
The Conflict of Human Inequality
In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, human inequality is a major problem that is constantly disregarded by the people of Maycomb County, Alabama. This conflict is mainly portrayed through racism and social structure. Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson are two characters that experience inequality throughout the novel.
Mayella Ewell experiences social inequality in Maycomb County. She is a white girl who lives with her father and siblings next to the dump, and they do not have a good reputation in the community. Very often, she does not get any respect from others. When Atticus was doing his cross examination with Mayella, she thought he was mocking her by calling her “miss” or “ma’am”. “Long’s he keeps on callin’ me ma’am and sayin’ Miss Mayella. I don’t hafta take his sass. I ain’t called upon to take it” (207). This shows that Mayella is not used to being treated gallantly like other women in society. The Ewells are usually ignored by everybody else. They are also not expected to follow the rules like the rest of the Maycomb community. When her brother, Burris, walked out of class on the first day of school, the students in the class justified it by saying, “He’s one of the Ewells… the truant lady gets ‘em here… she reckons she’s carried out the law just getting’ their names on the roll” (30). This shows that the Ewells are not cared about and are able to bend the rules because of their reputation. And because of this, Mayella does not receive help with taking care of her family. Another character who experiences human inequality is Tom Robinson. However, for him, this happens in the form of racism. Tom is an African-American man living in Maycomb with his wife and kids. Being a black man in the South was hard because they were not given the same opportunities as white men. When Mayella tried to kiss him, and when her father saw this encounter, Tom automatically fled because he felt it was unsafe for him to be there “’If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?’ ‘Like I says before, it weren’t safe for any N to be in a—fix like that’” (225).