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What does Calpurnia's lecture to Scout about criticizing Walter's manners say about...

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lindseykae | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 26, 2009 at 8:06 AM via web

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What does Calpurnia's lecture to Scout about criticizing Walter's manners say about hers and Atticus's attitude toward others?

Calpurnia lectures Scout on manners when Scout criticizes Walter's manners and Atticus supports her. What does this tell you about how both Calpurnia and Atticus feel about others?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 26, 2009 at 9:11 AM (Answer #1)

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In Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," both Atticus and Calpurnia respect the individual regardless of race or socioeconomic status.  A phrase that Jem mocked in latter chapters because it was not adhered to by most of the community does, however, hold true for Atticus and Caplpurnia.  This phrase is what Scout says at the end of Chapter 23:  "...there is just one kind of folks.  Folks."

So, when Scout criticizes Walter's table manners, Calpurnia privately scolds her, telling her that Walter is her company. And, it is after this incident that Atticus tells Scout,

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folds.  You never really understand a person until yu consider things from his point of view--....until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

Of course, this is the very lesson that Scout does learn as the narrative continues.  For, she comes to understand Mrs. Dubose, the Cunninghams, Tom Robinson, Mr. Raymond Dolphus, Boo Radley as well as Calpurnia, Jem, Aunt Alexandra, and her father.

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grammargator | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 26, 2009 at 9:12 AM (Answer #2)

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Throughout the story, both Calpurnia and Atticus communicate to Jem and Scout the importance of trying to understand others, even when others or their benavior seems odd. Atticus does this with Jem when he explains why Mrs. Dubose acts the way she does. More than his words, Atticus shows Jem through his actions--his unfailingly polite and considerate manner--how to respond to Mrs. Dubose.

Indeed, an important theme of the story is "walking a mile in someone else's shoes." This is the essence of good manners, which after all is no more (or less) than doing one's best to make others feel comfortable.

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