In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some adjectives to describe the characters of Atticus, Jem, and Calpurnia.*Provide quotes to support...

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some adjectives to describe the characters of Atticus, Jem, and Calpurnia?

Please provide quotes to support the adjectives and choose one adjective to describe all three characters.

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Genuine: Jem, Atticus, and Calpurnia are all genuine individuals. They are honest with each other and try their best to help others throughout the novel. Jem looks up to his father, and Atticus teaches his son many important life lessons. Atticus defends Calpurnia's character when Aunt Alexandra suggests that he fire Cal, and Calpurnia looks after Atticus' children as if she was their mother. All three characters support each other and express genuine interest and care for one another throughout To Kill a Mockingbird.

Loyal: Jem is fiercely loyal to his father, Atticus. Jem reveres Atticus and risks danger to make sure his father is safe. In Chapter 15, Atticus is surrounded outside of the Maycomb jailhouse by a drunken mob who wants to lynch Tom Robinson. Jem, Scout, and Dill follow Atticus to the jailhouse, and when Scout runs out to see her father, Jem is close behind. Atticus tells Jem to go home and take Scout and Dill with him. Scout comments on Jem's reaction to his father's directive to leave by saying,

"Jem shook his head. Atticus's fists went to his hips, so did Jem's, and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them: Jem's soft brown hair and eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were out mother's, contrasting oddly with Atticus's graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike. Mutual defiance made them alike" (Lee 203).

Jem displays his loyalty to his father by refusing to leave Atticus in a dangerous situation. Despite Atticus' directives to "go home," Jem stands in defiance because he will not leave his father's side.

Tolerant: Atticus is the novel's morally upright character, and one of his predominant character traits is that of tolerance. Instead of reacting out of anger to racist remarks and various insults, he keeps his cool and displays tolerance. In Chapter 11, Atticus encourages his children not to let Mrs. Dubose's comments bother them and to act respectfully no matter what she says. Atticus says,

"She's an old lady and she's ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad" (Lee 133).

Instead of telling his children that Mrs. Dubose is an ignorant racist, he tells them that it is not her fault and encourages them to exercise tolerance.

Accomplished: Calpurnia is the Finch's African American cook. In Chapter 12, she takes Jem and Scout to her church and the children find out several interesting facts about Calpurnia's life. Jem is awestruck when he finds out that Calpurnia taught her son how to read from the challenging book Blackstone's Commentaries. After Scout hears Calpurnia speak to her fellow community members, she says,

"That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages" (Lee 167).

Calpurnia had the unique ability to read and write, which was uncommon for African Americans living in the Deep South during the 1930s. Calpurnia was also respected throughout her community and was able to converse with both black and white members of Maycomb with relative ease.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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