How does Calpurnia influence Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout's view of Calpurnia changes during the course of the novel. In the early chapters, Scout considers Cal a

... tyrannical presence... Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side.  (Chapter 1

Scout believes that Cal favors Jem and relentlessly picks on her. But Jem has already learned to stay out of Cal's way (just as he later does when Aunt Alexandra comes to live), and Scout slowly comes to realize that Cal is both a friend and role model. It is Scout's revelation about Cal's "modest double life" that both arouses her curiosity and strengthens their relationship. When the children join Cal one Sunday at her church in the Quarters, Scout discovers that Cal is one of the few members of the congregation who can read (she has also taught her son, Zeebo); that she learned to read from Scout's Granddaddy Finch; that she is a respected member of her church (partly because of her esteemed position as the housekeeper of Atticus Finch); and that she had the "command of two languages"--the "fine English" that she speaks in the Finch household, and the "nigger-talk" she uses with her friends in the Quarters. Scout admires the way in which Cal stands up to Lula when the "troublemaker from way back" tries to block the white children from entering her "nigger church." The children's visit to the First Missionary church is a tremendous learning experience for both Jem and Scout, and after Cal explains about "puttin' on airs to beat Moses" is not "ladylike," Scout decides she wants to visit Cal's home in the Quarters to learn even more about her other life. Aside from Miss Maudie, it is Cal who Scout most respects among the women in the story, accepting Cal as a "faithful member of this family." Scout's deeper understanding of Calpurnia later affects her view of the trial of Tom Robinson, and she feels completely at home when she joins the all-Negro gallery on the second floor. Scout sees what most others did not: that Tom is innocent and that the white Ewells are liars.  

by the end of the day, Scout

amysor | Student

Throughout the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, Calpurnia influences Scout a lot. To add on to bullgatortail's answer, Calpurnia also influenced her in percieving others. When Walter Cunningham Jr. first came over for dinner at the Finches, Scout insulted Walter when he was pouring molasses all over his food. Walter is poor, and to make his food flavorful, he has a habit of pouring molasses on his food to improve the tase. Scout has a higher standard of living, so she found this odd. Cal nagged Scout about how that was mean, and try to see people's in their shoes before judging them. At the end of the book, Scout does this with Boo Radley. She understands Boo by understanding things through his perspective. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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