In the novel To Kill a Mokingbird, describe the church service at Calpurnia's church.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although there is so much more to this chapter than the actual church service you are inquiring about, the service itself does give us a very personal window into the "Negro world" of the Finches' beloved Calpurnia.  As they approach the churchyard "the warm bittersweet smell of clean Negro welcomed us" (118) followed by it being "dim inside, with a damp coolness slowly dispelled by the gathering congregation" who gathered, of course, even without hymn books (120).  Without an organ, piano, or instrument of any kind, Reverend Sykes begins the service simply "stands behind the pulpit staring the congregation to silence" (120).  His first item of business is to welcome the Finch children, foreshadowing his future efforts in taking care of them.  Some announcements are read, and prayer/collection requests reviewed.  Most significantly, the Finch children notice the collection requested for Tom Robinson.  The first hymn is sung, much to Scout's surprise (who is astounded at the voices singing with no hymn-books).  Scout describes it best when she says, "music again swelled around us . . . voices followed in simple harmony until the hymn ended in a melancholy murmur" (121).  Reverend Sykes calls upon God to cure the sick and suffering, naming specific names.  Then came the sermon.  The Reverend Sykes' sermon "was a forthright denunciation of sin, an austere declaration of the motto on the wall behind him: he warned his flock against the evils of heady brews, gambling, and strange women" (122).  Scout noticed only one difference about the familiar sermon:  Reverend Sykes mentioned people by name who had fallen from grace.  Everything so far leads to our knowledge of a far more personal church service as opposed to a service in the typical white church.  The collection is taken up, and Reverend Sykes announces the amount immediately (which again surprises the children) and demands more from the congregation (which surprises them even more).  With ten dollars collected, the church service ends with the Finch children brimming with questions.  Ah, but that's another story . . . .

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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