Explain the presentation of Calpurnia as fully a woman in To Kill a Mockingbirdwith quotes or page references please, if possible Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A well-developed character, Calpurnia of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird figures closely into the family dynamics of the Finches, acting as mother, advisor, friend, and maid.  In Chapter 2, for instance, Scout mentions that while Atticus has taught her to read, Calpurnia has taught her to write when Scout brings Walter Cunningham home for lunch and disparages his eating habits, Calpurnia seems more a mother to Scout than mere maid as she instructs Scout in good manners,

"Hush your moth!  Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you rmarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty1"

Calpurnia sent me through the swinging door to the diningroom with a stinging smack.

Acting as a bridge between the white world and the black world, Calpurnia brings Scout and her brother to her church one Sunday, proving to them that she loves them and also that she makes no distinction among people of different colors.  For, in Chapter 12 when Lula asks her why she has brought white children to the church, Calpurnia retorts in the vernacular, "They's my comp'ny."  She also teaches the children that blacks have pride as she tells Scout and Jem to keep their dimes as they are her guests at the church.  By exposing the children to the differences in the black and the white churches, Calpurnia provides subtle instruction in the lack of hypocrisy in the black community. In addition, Calpurnia helps guard the children against forming prejudices.  And, she acts nobly in the face of such prejudice.  For example, when Aunt Alexandra does not permit Calpurnia to make the teacakes for her missionary tea with the ladies of the church, Calpurnia makes no comment.

Calpurnia is a presence that disciplines, instructs, and comforts the children--a role that befits a woman.  When, for example, Dill asks in Chapter 15 "What's up?" as Jem and Scout venture out to the jailhouse because Jem is worried about his father, Calpurnia diagnoses Jem's state of mind, "Jem's got the look-arounds."  This, Scout remarks, is "an affliction Calpurnia said all boys caught at his age."  Clearly, the character of Calpurnia exerts the strongest feminine influence in the novel.


We’ve answered 317,460 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question