Do you think the author meant this statement but did not say.Calpurnia was prepared to yield to Lula's demands. Do you think the author meant this statement but did not say.Calpurnia was prepared...

Do you think the author meant this statement but did not say.Calpurnia was prepared to yield to Lula's demands. 

Do you think the author meant this statement but did not say.Calpurnia was prepared to yield to Lula's demands.


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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, I strongly disagree with the statement that Calpurnia was prepared to yield to Lula's demands.

In Chapter Twelve, while Atticus is dealing with an emergency of the state legislature, and away for two weeks, Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout with her on Sunday to the First Purchase Church, where Calpurnia attends Sunday worship.

When they arrive, it is evident that Lula, a member of the church's congregation, is particularly unhappy that white children are attending her church.

…standing in the path behind us was a tall Negro woman. Her weight was on one leg; she rested her left elbow in the curve of her hip, pointing at us with upturned palm. She was bullet-headed with strange almond-shaped eyes, straight nose, and an Indian-bow mouth. She seemed seven feet high.

I felt Calpurnia's hand dig into my shoulder. "What you want, Lula?" she asked, in tones I had never heard her use. She spoke quietly, contemptuously.

"I wants to know why you bringin' white chillun to n***er church."

"They's my comp'ny," said Calpurnia...

"Yeah, an' I reckon you's comp'ny at the Finch house durin' the week."

A murmur ran through the crowd. "Don't you fret," Calpurnia whispered to me, but the roses on her hat trembled indignantly.

When Lula came up the pathway toward us Calpurnia said, "Stop right there, n***er."

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?"

Calpurnia said, "It's the same God, ain't it?"

Jem said, "Let's go home, Cal, they don't want us here—"

I agreed: they did not want us here. I sensed, rather than saw, that we were being advanced upon...

In this scene we see Calpurnia confronted by one of the members of her congregation, demanding to know why Calpurnia has brought Jem and Scout to their church. Rather than shaking with fear, Calpurnia shakes with indignation. She is insulted for the sake of the feelings of Jem and Scout, "her guests," but it's quite possible that she is embarrassed because of Lula's un-Christian behavior. Within moments the rest of the congregation gathers around Calpurnia and the kids, and they are not only welcomed into the church, but ushered to the front pew as well. Calpurnia will protect Jem and Scout as if they are her own children, and she shows no intention of letting Lula drive them away.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpurnia's character is supposed to represent the resilience of the black folk of Macomb the same way that Atticus represents the white resilience of Macomb. However, they both represent such resilience within the point of view of community, decency and positivism.

There is no way Calpurnia would have failed the kids (who, to her, are HER kids) by allowing them to be bullied and pushed around by Lula, nor anyone. I believe that Harper Lee made sure that this moment in the story allows the reader to get to know the strength of Calpurnia's loyalty towards the Finch family and how she is incapable to fail her people, whichever color they are.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think the purpose of Calpurnia's character is to demonstrate that there can be strength even in an oppressed population. Racism is a major theme in the book, and one important aspect is represented by Cal. She is treated like a member of the family by Atticus, and to a large extent by the children. She is the mother figure, but not seen as a servant. The incident with Lula demonstrates that Cal is tough enough to stand up for herself, but smart enough to do so cautiously. I think that part of this strength is from her personality, and part from her place in the Finch hosehold and her position in her own community.
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no indication whatsoever that Calpurnia considers caving in to the racist and rude demands of Miss Lula. Calpurnia is unafraid to correct a white girl in her own home; an out-of-line black woman does not intimidate her. In fact, the entire congregation is willing to stand up against the obnoxious woman as some of them quickly escort her off the premises. No one has to talk about it or come to a concensus--they just know this woman is in the wrong and act appropriately to make things right.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree unequivocally with #2. It is clear if we read the text carefully that Calpurnia is shocked and insulted by Lula's actions and words in suggesting that she should not have brought Jem and Scout to their church with her. I don't think there is any indication in the text that would indicate otherwise. Let us remember what we know about Calpurnia's character. She is not the sort of weak, timid woman who would back down easily when she feels she is in the right.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't disagree with the other posts. Cal was ready to defend Jem and Scout no matter what. Lula didn't intimidate her one bit. Cal also must have realized that the rest of the congregation sided with her and the children, so there was no chance of her backing down. It would have been a poor example for the children and a disgrace to her position as the housekeeper of Atticus Finch, the beloved defender of Maycomb's black citizenry.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpunia, a foil to Atticus Finch, is a woman whose integrity does not allow her to be swayed by convention or culture.  Earlier in the novel, she chastised Scout for criticizing Walter Cunningham, who was her guest for lunch.  Therefore, Calpurnia is not about to compromise herself before Miss Lula.  The children are her guests--period.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like the other posters, I see no reason to think that Lee would back this statement.  Calpurnia is, along with Atticus, the strongest moral character in the book.  There is no way that she would back down in the face of unreasoning hatred such as Lula exhibits.  I do not think there is any real way to defend this statement.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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