In Chapter 12 of To Kill a Mockingbird, how are Jem and Scout accepted to First Purchase Church?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Jem and Scout are treated with hospitable respect as Cal's guests at First Purchase Church, it is really no surprise considering the position of African Americans in 1930s Alabama. It would have been near suicidal for the congregation as a whole to have rejected the white children, since whites generally had the free run of anywhere they wished to set foot in Maycomb. Only Lula is courageous (or foolish) enough to stand up for what she believes--that the white children should be in their own church since black people are not welcome in white churches. The remainder of the congregation must recognize that refusing to allow a white person to enter might result in a visit from the same men from Old Sarum who planned to lynch Tom Robinson. They may have also risked First Purchase being burned to the ground for such an obstinate act. After all, the church is not used exclusively by Negroes.

Negroes worshiped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays.  (Chapter 12)

Of course, the congregation also knew that Jem and Scout were the children of Atticus Finch--the black man's best white friend in Maycomb--so the children were probably the most welcome white faces that could have been found in the town. Had Bob Ewell decided to pay a visit to the First Purchase worship service, Lula may have had a few more supporters at her side. All in all, Jem and Scout had a happy learning experience, and the black church-goers treated them as special guests, but considering the lowly social status of the Negro in Maycomb, the members really had little choice but to accept Jem and Scout graciously.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to her church, First Purchase. The Reverend Sykes and many members are accepting of Jem and Scout. Some people in the church realize the price Atticus is paying to defend Tom Robinson. They are very appreciative of his sacrifice. They greatly appreciate what Atticus Finch is doing for Tom Robinson, thus they are gracious in receiving Jem and Scout in their church. 

While most of the members are hospitable toward Jem and Scout, one lady named Lulu is not accepting. She rudely criticizes Calpurnia for bringing the "white" children to church:

"Lula stopped, but she said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here – they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?"

Lulu does not make a good point. The white church would never allow a black person to enter. 

Zeebo the garbage collector apologizes to Jem for Lulu's rude comments::

"Mister Jem," he said, "we're mighty glad to have you all here. Don't pay no 'tention to Lula, she's contentious because Reverend Sykes threatened to church her. She's a troublemaker from way back...."


 Calpurnia tells Lulu that there is one God and to stop disrespecting the children, Jem and Scout. However, Jem and Scout see evidence of prejudices from blacks as well as whites. 


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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