To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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How does Calpurnia influence Scout in the book To Kill a Mockingbird?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Calpurnia is a mother figure to Scout. She serves as both a disciplinarian, as a nurturer, and as a support system. She is also the link that connects Scout to the real Maycomb, or at least to the side of Maycomb (the black side) which Scout would have never known otherwise.

Cal influences Scout in correcting her, for example, when Walter Cunningham was invited to eat at the Finch home. Scout always held a bit of contempt against him for his coarse manners, his poverty, and his ignorance of any better. Since he was demonstrating all these behaviors when he was invited to lunch, Scout made fun of him. Immediately Calpurnia got onto her and demanded that she treated Little Cunningham with the respect that is owed to a guest, and that Scout better not dismiss a person for their current state in life.

Another influence is that Calpurnia loves, limits, and lets Scout be. She does the same with Jem, and with any other person who is honest and connected in any way to the Finches. Calpurnia also always speaks her mind, letting Scout understand that Maycomb is quite a separated place and that things are not as fair as they may seem in the surface.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One very important way in which Calpurnia influences Scout is through making her understand what it means to be a girl. Scout has always been a bit of a tomboy, and she enjoys the rough and tumble of games and adventures normally reserved for boys. But as Jem gets older, he starts to tire of such games and of having his little sister around. After Jem turns twelve, he starts to spend more time by himself, and this is something that Scout is too young and immature to understand.

This is where Calpurnia comes in. She supplies Scout with some of the companionship she has lost from Jem. Whenever Jem wants to be alone, Scout knows that she can always pop into the kitchen and watch Calpurnia at work. As she watches Calpurnia, Scout finally starts to realize that there is actually some skill involved in being a girl. After being almost a boy for the whole of her short life, Scout needs to learn how to be a girl, and Calpurnia is on hand to show her how.

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