What are some quotes showing why Helen Robinson can't get a job?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout first learns about Helen Robinson not being able to find work in Maycomb County in chapter 12 when she goes with Jem to Calpurnia's church. At the end of Reverend Sykes' sermon, he asks the congregation to give money for Helen Robinson in the collection can. After the first go-around, there isn't as much money as Reverend Sykes wanted. He wants to collect ten dollars. In an effort to collect more money he says the following:

"You all know what it's for—Helen can't leave those children to work while Tom's in jail. If everybody gives one more dime, we'll have it" (122).

Scout wonders why this is the case for Helen because many African American mothers take their children along with them to the fields when they work. Scout asks the Reverend about it. He responds with the following:

"To tell you the truth, Miss Jean Louise, Helen's finding it hard to get work these days. . . when it's picking time, I think Mr. Link Deas'll take her" (123).

This still makes Scout wonder, so she turns to Calpurnia for another answer to why Helen can't get work. Calpurnia says this:

"It's because of what folks say Tom's done . . . Folks aren't anxious to—to have anything to do with any of his family" (123).

Then Scout gets a watered-down version of how Tom got put in jail, but Cal won't give her the definition of rape. The point is that Scout discovers that Helen isn't finding work because people are shunning her for what her husband allegedly did.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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