What new things does Scout learn about how black people live in chapter 12?

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout and Jem were taken to First Purchase African M.E. Church on Sunday by Calpurnia since Atticus was out of town.  Scout seems to know some of this information already, but this is what she tells us about how black people live.

1. There is a black church and a white church.  Lula, another member of the church, protested the fact that Calpurnia was bringing white children into their church.  The children feel the prejudice, and Jem asks to go home. 

2. The graveyard was hard clay, and they had to put bodies on ice and wait until the ground thawed out before they could bury the people who died in the winter.

3. The newer graves were outlined in colored glass and Coca-Cola bottles, and some had lightning rods next to them.  The lightning rod showed that a restless ghost, or one who was not resting in peace was in that grave. All the graves of the babies had candle stumps at their heads.  Scout felt it was a happy cemetery.

4. They did not have a piano, organ, or any means of music in the church.  They also did not have hymn books or a program of service. 

5. Their church didn't have a ceiling and it was unpainted.

6. She learned that day that black people sang in church by "lining". That is a practice where one person says the words to the song, and then the congregation sings those words.  They did that because only four people in the whole congregation could read.

7. She learned that people didn't want to hire Helen, Tom's wife, because he had been accused of rape.  So the congregation took up a collection for Helen to help her and her three children. 

 8. Calpurnia spoke correct English in their home, but when she was among her own people, she spoke the black dialect.  She did not want to put on airs around her own people.  Scout equated that with speaking two languages.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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