Regarding To Kill A Mockingbird's Chapters 11-15, list 3 characters and their most important traits with commentary on those traits.
- Chapter 11
Mrs. Dubose - With a French last name, albeit by marriage, Mrs. Dubose may have ancestry from Mobile, Alabama, since that port city on the Gulf of Mexico originally belonged to the French. At any rate, there are indications that she is a lady of the Old South--"it is rumored that she kept a CSA [Confederate States of America] pistol concealed among her numerous shawls"--possessing the attitudes of one used to having black servants such as her "Negro girl in constant attendance." As such, she is outraged that her neighbor Atticus Finch would bring such "scandal" to her neighborhood as to defend a "n****r."
She is highly critical of the way the children call their father by his first name, referring to Jem and Scout as "the sassiest, most disrespectful mutts who ever passed her way." Often Jem returned home in a fury over some insult from Mrs. Dubose. But when she vilifies Atticus, saying he is no better than "the ...trash he works for!" Jem grabs Scout's baton and cuts the tops off every camellia bush that the old lady owns. Then, in his outrage, he breaks Scout's baton in two.
As punishment Jem is made to read to Mrs. Dubose; she does not seem to hear much, but yet hurls insults. Scout finds her "horrible" with a face the "color of a dirty pillowcase" and drool leaking from her mouth down into "the deep grooves enclosing her chin." As the days of Jem's sentence pass, Mrs. Dubose seems to worsen. But, Jem's resentment also dies down, and when she asks him if he regrets his act, he replies affirmatively. One day she informs him that the blossoms are growing back; on another day, she tells him "Good-day to you." Shortly afterward, Jem learns that she has died. Atticus also informs his son that Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict, but she withdrew from it before she died so that she would be "beholden to nothing or anyone."
Hearing this and Atticus's telling him that Mrs. Dubose possessed real courage, gives Jem a new perspective on her.
- Chapter 12
Calpurnia - As the maid for the children, Calpurnia fulfills a role that is much like that of the Mammy as depicted in Gone With the Wind: she is both servant to Atticus and mother to the children. For instance, when Scout disparages Walter for being "just a Cunningham" and not knowing the proper way to eat his food, Calpurnia chastises her.
The good-hearted Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to her church on Sunday. There, the children encounter racial prejudice of another sort: Lula does not want any white children in the African M.E. Church. When she asks why Calpurnia has brought them, "It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?" Cal answers, "It's the same God, ain't it?" Earlier she has responded in dialect, "They's my comp'ny."
Lula is a significant character because she represents the resentment of Southern blacks who were so marginalized. The church was, for some, the only place that they could call their own. But, while Calpurnia understands this sentiment, she demonstrates to the Finch children that she has no bias against anyone.
- Chapter 13
Aunt Alexandra - "Put my bag in the front bedroom, Calpurnia" are the first words out of Aunt Alexandra when she arrives at the Finch home. And, she continues to assert her authority as she perceives it: She prohibits Calpurnia from making the refreshments for the blue-bloods of Maycomb who attend the Missionary Tea. She declares "What Is Best For The Family," Scout narrates. She discusses lineage and feels herself among the elite of the county.
Scout perceives Aunt Alexandra as a threat to the dynamics of her family because she is so autocratic and causes Atticus to adopt a sharpness to his words that Scout and Jem have never heard. For a while Atticus succumbs to the importance of family lineage, how to conduct oneself, etc.; however when he notices the stress that it causes his children, he advises them not to worry.
"Atticus, is all this behavin' an' stuff gonna make things different? I mean are you---?" Scout asks.
...."I don't want you to remember it. Forget it." He went to the door....He nearly slammed it, but caught himself at the last minutes....
Thus, Aunt Alexandra fails at her attempts to impose her will on her brother. Later in the narrative she is persuaded to perceive many things in a different light.