Difference Between Ewells and Cunninghams

Ewells vs Cunninghams

The great depression of the 1930’s brought hard times for many families in the country. How the poor families coped with these hard economic times and what happened to their social values and norms have been described by many authors through characters in their novels. Harper Lee is one such author who has described two poor white families Ewells and Cunninghams in his novel ‘To Kill the Mockingbird’. Ewells and Cunninghams are two families belonging to the same social class in the city of Maycomb. Though there are many similarities between these families, in the sense, that both are white and poor, there are many differences too. This article attempts to highlight the differences between the Ewells and the Cunninghams.

Author Harper Lee has chosen the characters in his novel to let the people understand that, even during adverse times, there is much to look forward to, and there is a hope at the end of a dark tunnel. With almost polar reactions to poverty from Ewells and Cunninghams, Harper wants readers to learn from the mistakes of Ewells and to follow in the footsteps of the Cunninghams.


Ewells belong to the lowest class in the society. They are not only poor, but they also lack the sense of education, cleanliness, and even hard work, as the members of the family have been depicted as lazy and despised by all others in the neighborhood. Bob Ewell has been shown as a very irresponsible member of the family who borrows money from others and spends it on alcohol. He is also shown to steal money and later drinking alcohol. He is never shown to buy or cook a nutritious meal for his family. People in the community are shown as fed up with the ways of Ewells. Members of the family continued to lie and did nothing to stop slandering of Tom Robinson who was later lynched by a mob.


Cunninghams are also white and poor, but they are respected by others in the community. Members of the family have been shown to work hard to earn a living. Cunninghams have earned the respect and trust of the community because of their honesty and hard work. Even facing hard times did not stop Cunninghams from helping others. People of the community are seen to be glad to be of some help to the Cunninghams. The family had a small piece of land and bartered their crop for other necessary things in life. They never accepted things that they could not return.

What is the difference between Ewells and Cunninghams?

• Cunninghams are respected by others while Ewells are despised by other members of the community.

• Cunninghams are hardworking while Ewells are lazy.

• Children of Cunningham family go to school daily while kids of Ewell family rarely go to school.

• Cunninghams accept things from others only when they have earned them or are sure to return whereas Ewells are shown to buy alcohol after stealing or borrowing money.

• Cunninghams are proud and honest, whereas Ewells are liars.