How do you explain Lula's antagonism towards Jem and Scout?

Expert Answers
readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an important question, because it shows that racism goes both ways. In other words, it is clear that there is racism against blacks in Maycomb, but we also see that racism exists among the black community against whites.

When Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to church,  not all people are happy about this. Lula is a prime example. She is upset that white people, even if they are children, are in a black church. Here is the dialogue between her and Calpurnia:

When Lula came up the pathway toward us Calpurnia said, “Stop right there, nigger.”

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—”

This shows that the default mode for most people is racism. There are only a few good people in Maycomb, who are able to rise above the hatred. Calpurnia is one them, as is Atticus. 

hilahmarca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lula May is quite different from Calpurnia's character in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Calpurnia always wanted to be accepted by the white townspeople in Maycomb, so she learned to read and taught her son Zeebo how to read. Being educated and beina a part of a very important white family in Maycomb, the Finches, makes it easier for her to be somewhat accepted into white society. When she's around the African-American townspeople, she speaks and acts differently than when she is in the company of the white townspeople. Lula, however, doesn't make any effort to fit in with the white population of Maycomb and wants to keep it that way. Furthermore, she resents any white people who try to make their way into her world, the world of the African-American people. This explains why she is so upset when Calpurnia brings Scout and Jem to her church.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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