To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What physical symbol can be used to represent Lula in To Kill a Mockingbird? I know that Lula represents racism because she is racist towards Scout and Jem when they come to the black church, but what physical symbol can I use to represent her?

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Valentine England eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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First off, we should consider what it means to be racist. You've suggested that Lula is "racist" toward Jem and Scout, but that's not exactly a fair assessment of the situation; a more accurate way to explain the incident at the First Purchase church would be that Lula exhibited prejudice towards Jem and Scout. So what's the difference between racism and prejudice? 

Prejudice is a preconceived notion that is not founded in reality, while racism is a system of disadvantage perpetuated by discriminatory beliefs in which one race profits off the oppression of another. As a black woman in 1930s-era America, Lula is not in a position of power and is, in fact, subject to the tremendous racist beliefs of the surrounding white community. She is not behaving in a racist manner because she has nothing to gain from being complicit in a system of racism; she is the oppressed, not the oppressor. She is, however, behaving in a prejudiced way, conveying her disdain for white individuals by suggesting that Jem and Scout should stick to attending a white church. I'd argue that there's good reason for this kind of reaction, since white people have traditionally posed a great threat to black communities, but we won't delve too far into that. This is a complicated conversation that certainly extends beyond the limit of this context, so to summarize: prejudice is individual, while racism is both individual and institutional. 

Now that that's cleared up, let's answer your original question! A good physical symbol that represents Lula would be a bear; she is overprotective of her "territory," suspicious of Jem and Scout as "intruders" in that space, and hyper-aggressive when she senses that they may be a threat or that they are somewhere they don't belong. Her height ("She seemed seven feet high."), stature, and confrontational manner all bring to mind the image of a bear rearing up onto its hind legs, preparing to attack. 


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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To me, Lula is best represented by a peacock.  She seems to be more interested in showing off, and marking her territory, than politeness.  When the children go to church with Cal, they are her guests.  Lula objects to them being there, because they are white.  She says that they are not company, because Cal is not company in the Finch house.  She is an employee. 

Lula stopped, but she said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here- they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?" (ch 12)

Lula is a peacock because she wants to draw attention to herself.  She wants to voice her opinion.  She does not care about anyone else’s pride or opinion, because hers is the only thing that matters.

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