In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is the physical appearance of Calpurnia?  

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this question can be found in the first chapter of the book, a few pages in, when Scout describes Calpurnia in detail.  Cal is like a mother to Scout, because her mother died when she was too young to remember it.  And, she and Cal have a love/hate relationship--Scout feels like Cal bullies her and pushes her too hard, and gives her too much tough love; however, she is fully aware that Cal loves her, and is responsible for her safety and thriving.  She describes Cal's appearance as such:

"She was all angles and bones;...she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard."

From this we get the impression that Calpurnia was a very skinny bony woman with big hands, who wasn't afraid to discipline with swats or spankings when necessary.  She squinted because she was nearsighted, so overall, it gives a very interesting image of Cal.  I hope that helps a bit; good luck!

mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calpurnia is an older African American woman who looks much younger than her age.  When Scout finds out that Calpurnia is around the same age as her father, she is shocked.  She had had no idea.  

Scout describes Calpurnia, the family's cook, as being "all angles and bones; she was nearsighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard."  Calpurnia is tall and slender with large hands.  Scout notices Calpurnia squinting her eyes often to see more clearly.  She also notices that the small lines under Calpurnia's eyes became larger and deeper when she squints.

Usually, Calpurnia dresses simply.  When she works at the Finch house each day, she wears a skirt covered with an apron.  When Calpurnia goes to church, she is a smart dresser.  On the day that Scout and Jem accompany Calpurnia to her church, she is wearing a "navy voile dress and tub of a hat" (Chapter 12).

zumba96 | Student

Cal is like a mother to her and she is an African American who works for the Finches. However, it never feels like she is a servant because the family is close. Scout feels as if Cal pushes her too much at times though. Cal was a skinny woman yet she had big hands.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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