What does Scout learn about Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Scout learns several things about Calpurnia:

  • On her first day of school when Jem brings Walter Cunningham home for lunch, Calpurnia does not permit Scout to deprecate Walter as "just a Cunningham." She scolds Scout that Walter is her company. Further, she tells Scout that if she cannot be polite, she will have to eat in the kitchen.
  • When Scout returns from her first day, she narrates that Calpurnia "bent down and kissed me." Calpurnia has missed Scout, and she truly loves the child. Later, Scout notes that the "tyranny, unfairness, and meddling" in her "business" has lessened.
  • When Calpurnia takes the children to church, Scout perceives Calpurnia in a different environment from that to which she is accustomed. It is again evident from the beginning that Calpurnia loves Jem and Scout. When Lula accosts Calpurnia, she pulls herself up and protects the children. "They's my comp'ny." Scout notices that Calpurnia speaks differently from her usual manner. When Jem observes, "....they don't want us here--" she agrees with Jem.
  • The children also notice that Calpurnia speaks differently with her fellow congregation members. When they ask her about this, she tells the children that the congregation cannot read. She adds that Miss Maudie Atkinson's aunt, Miss Buford, has taught her her letters.
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