What purpose is served by the scene between Cal and Lula at First Purchase?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The confrontation between Lula and Calpurnia in Chapter Twelve of To Kill a Mockingbird  occurs as the children enter the First Purchase African Methodist Episcopal Church outside the southern limits of Maycomb.  Startled at first that whites would attend a service at this church, and then affronted that they would feel that they have a right to do so, Lula approaches Calpurnia and asks her why she is bringing white children to a Negro church.

This scene illustrates a very human tendency that exists so often.  If one is not permitted to enter the territory of another, then that person will also set up barriers on his/her side.  Because the Negroes of Maycomb could not dare enter a white church, then they become exclusive in their own church.  In addition, this scene in which Calpurnia includes the children as though they are their own demonstrates the expansive heart that Calpurnia possesses.  She, like Atticus, is loving to all.  And, that she has no compunctions about including the children at church, and that Lula and the others then defer to her wishes illustrates that, although they are so terribly discriminated against, the black community has bigger hearts that the men who come as a mob to hang Tom Robinson, or the gossips who malign Atticus for defending Tom.

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