In Chapter 3, how is Cal’s role as a mother figure for Scout and Jem depicted?  

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In chapter 3, Calpurnia is portrayed as a mother figure for her firm but loving personality toward the Finch children. Both Jem and Scout look up to Calpurnia, who acts as their surrogate mother throughout the novel. Calpurnia not only cooks and cleans for the children, she also teaches them important life lessons and offers them insight, which develop their perspectives on life.

After Scout rudely comments on Walter Cunninhgam Jr.'s poor eating habits, Calpurnia takes Scout into the kitchen and chastises her. Calpurnia tells Scout that it is wrong to criticize her guests and insists that she treat her company with respect. Calpurnia then gives Scout a smack and makes her eat dinner in the kitchen. When Scout complains about Cal, Atticus tells her,

I’ve no intention of getting rid of her, now or ever. We couldn’t operate a single day without Cal, have you ever thought of that? You think about how much Cal does for you, and you mind her, you hear? (Lee, 25).

Atticus's comments reveal that Calpurnia is respected and admired in the Finch home. When Scout returns home from her first day of school, Calpurnia rewards her with some sweet crackling bread and tells Scout how much she missed her throughout the day. Scout responds positively to Calpurnia's compassionate behavior and appreciates the crackling bread. Overall, Calpurnia's firm but loving personality reveals that she is a positive role model and a mother figure for the Finch children.

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In Chapter 3, Scout antagonized Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard for allegedly making her first day of school "start off on the wrong foot". Jem stopped her and asked why she was mad at Walter, and when he learned the problem was caused by Walter not having any lunch, Jem invited the boy to dinner at the Finch house. Jem asked Calpurnia to set an extra place for their company. Walter displayed strange table manners, most likely because he was not often presented with the kind of meal he was being given, and Scout was flabbergasted when he poured molasses all over his meal, and embarrassed him. Calpurnia pulled Scout aside to reprimand her for commenting on Walter’s table manners. This was an effort to teach Scout to respect her company and treat them like equals, regardless of their background. Cal pointed out that the Finch’s higher status over the Cunninghams didn't mean anything if Scout could not be civilized at the table. Calpurnia punished her by making her finish her dinner in the kitchen. Calpurnia straddled the roles of servant and mother in this scene. 

 

Slaps her. Makes her finish her meal in the kitchen.

 

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