How would you describe Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpurnia is one of the most beloved characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Cal is the black woman who works for Atticus and helps him take care of the house and Jem and Scout. Calpurnia is a no nonsense kind of woman. She is tough and sticks to her guns. She is treated like one of the family and Atticus gives her respect, which in those days, made her extremely lucky. She is a woman of great moral values and instills those values into Jem and Scout. 

For the most part, Calpurnia has been like a mother to the children. Jem and Scout's mother died when they were young. Jem still has memories of his mother, but Scout doesn't remember her mother. Calpurnia has, in a way, taken the place of a mother for Scout. She is stern with Scout and teaches her how to treat people, but she is also loving towards her. When the trial of Tom Robinson gets underway, Calpurnia is the one who keeps an eye on the children. She takes them to her all black church and thinks nothing of it. 

Harper Lee uses Calpurnia as a mother figure in the book. Calpurnia looks after Atticus, Jem and Scout. She imparts her wisdom onto the young kids and listens when Atticus has something to say. Atticus and the children make her a member of their family and in return she has made them her family. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpurnia is a caring and conscientious woman. She goes to church, stands up for herself and those she cares for, knows how to read and write (unlike some others in Maycomb), and works hard to teach and raise Jem and Scout. 

Like Atticus, Calpurnia is a strict but loving teacher, particularly in regard to Scout...

As Scout realizes, Calpurnia speaks in two distinct dialects. She uses one dialect when she is with the Finch family, which the novel identifies as "correct" or "right" speech. She uses another vernacular when she is in church. 

This fact demonstrates the notion that Calpurnia navigates two worlds on a daily basis. However, she feels a loyalty to both of these worlds. 

When Calpurnnia takes Scout and Jem to church, she refuses to apologize for bringing the children to the First Purchase church when she is accused of wrong-doing.

Calpurnia responds by calling them her guests and saying "it's the same God, ain't it?"

For Calpurnia, we might say that the loyalty she feels toward Scout and Jem comes from the same source as her loyalty to her own children - love.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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