This story takes place in an alternative universe in which the Confederate States of America (CSA) won the right to secede from the United States of America in the war that began in 1861.
In this version of the CSA, there are six classes of people:
ARISTOCRACY: Those people who own large blocks of land called plantations, though not all plantations actually produce agricultural products for commercial sale. These are the people who control the economy and actually have money to spend. They also own all businesses.
PROFESSIONALS: Doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, etc.
COMMONERS: White Christians who do not own land or businesses. The vast majority are share croppers or soldiers. Some are police, etc.
SERFS: White people who are virtual slaves to the aristocracy, but fall into the group of people who do not have dark skins.
SLAVES: All people who have a dark colored skin. There are no “Free Blacks.”
OUTLAWS: The few people who refuse to conform to the social order stated above. These people generally live by stealing what they need from the aristocracy, who are the only people with an available surplus.