Comment On Jem's And Scout's Visit To First Purchase Church

How was Jem's and Scout's visit to First Purchase Church in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Jem and Scout get an up-close education of African-American life during their visit to Calpurnia's church. It is their first trip to First Purchase AME Church in the Quarters, and Calpurnia wants to make sure that they make a good impression on her friends. She makes sure that both of the children are looking their best.

If Calpurnia had ever bathed me roughly before, it was nothing compared to her supervision of that Saturday night's routine. She made me soap all over twice...

She even made Scout wear a petticoat and directed them to put "smiles on your faces." The children were welcomed by the congregation with "respectful attention" with one exception: a huge, "bullet-headed" woman named Lula. Lula objected to Calpurnia "bringin' white chillun to nigger church." Jem and Scout wanted to leave, but the rest of the congregation quickly drew closer and, suddenly, "Lula was gone."

Jem and Scout discovered that it was a poor church, with bare ceilings, no paint, kerosene lamps for lighting and simple wooden benches as pews. Since most of the congregation could not read, there was no use for hymnals; instead, they sung by "linin'," with the words to each line read by Zeebo (Calpurnia's son) and then repeated in harmony by the congregation. Reverend Sykes' sermon

... was a forthright denunciation of sin...
     Jem and I had heard the same sermon Sunday after Sunday...

The collection was taken up in "a black enameled coffee can" and the money was given to assist Tom Robinson's family. Afterward, the children discovered that Calpurnia

... led a modest double life.

Around her friends, Calpurnia talked like the "Rest of the colored folks." It was different from her much more proper English that was spoken in the Finch house. On their way home, Scout decided that she wanted to visit Calpurnia's house, and the housekeeper promised that they could come

"Any time you want to."

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Their visit to church with Calpurnia is eye-opening. This is the first time they see her in her element. Jem and Scout are used to the way Calpurnia acts and talks in their home, and now they are able to see her when she is with her own people. They are especially surprised by the way that she talks- with the southern black dialect that she could feel comfortable using only around people with whom she was comfortable.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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