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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Calpurnia scold Scout after making her...

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paulmartinisa... | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:01 PM via web

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Calpurnia scold Scout after making her leave the dinner table on the first day of school?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 6, 2012 at 6:28 PM (Answer #1)

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Calpurnia, who has been part of the Finch family since the death of Scout's mother, is not happy with Scout's observations of Walter Cunningham's table manners, and tells her so.  Jem and Scout had invited Walter home for lunch on the first day of school after it became apparent he had nothing to eat; Scout, in her childish naivete and/or astonishment, comments loudly about Walter's dousing his lunch plate with molasses, to which Calpurnia responds by sending her to the kitchen, where she reminds Scout that Walter is a guest of the family, and is to be treated as such, unless Scout would like to finish the meal in the kitchen.

It is clear that Calpurnia is an important part of the Finch family.  She does not hesitate to discipline Scout in front of Atticus, which speaks to the respect Atticus has for her contributions to the household.  Aunt Alexandra, later in the book, suggests that Calpurnia is no longer needed to look after the children, but Atticus makes it clear that Calpurnia has been an important part of the family for too long and he has no intention of letting her go. 

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