What is Calpurnia's function in the Finch household in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Cal does just about everything.  She is officially the housekeeper, but Atticus notes that they could not get along without her.  She is strict but caring.  She tries to raise Scout and Jem as if they were her own children.  She is their surrogate mother.  When Aunt Alexandra wants to send her away, Atticus refuses. 

Scout often thinks that Calpurnia treats them unfairly or is too harsh.  Atticus assures her that she needs to mind Cal and Cal has important things to teach them.  So Cal does much more than cook and clean.

At one point, Cal takes Scout and Jem to her church.  In the story, this serves an important function.  It gives us a window into another culture in Maycomb.  It also gives Scout and Jem a place to view the trial, because they sit with the Reverend in the balcony.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial