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To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those rare stories that is equally good in both book and movie form. Harper Lee’s coming-of-age story loses none of its power in the Gregory Peck movie. However, it is one of the limitations of any book-turned-feature-length-film that it is not able to cover as much literary ground as the written word. It’s just not possible to cram that much content into a couple of hours and still have a coherent movie.
So, even though the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird remains true to the themes of the book, it is not able to touch on every scene or subplot developed in the book. One such scene occurs when the African-American Finch family housekeeper, Calpurnia, decides to take Jem and Scout to the black church in Maycomb. When they arrive, they are accosted by a black woman, Lula, who does not think that Calpurnia should have brought the white children to the church. The following quote from Lula occurs several pages into chapter 12 of my edition of the book. It is on page 119, but that won’t be the same for other editions (mine is the Warner Books edition, from 1982).
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?
Lula’s words and actions reveal a form of prejudice that we don’t see as often, the bitterness that some minorities feel toward white people. Lee is willing to highlight this bitterness, and uses it to show how, by contrast, the vast majority of the African-American congregation treats the white children with kindness. Lee is showing the reader that no group is immune to hateful predispositions, but most people are willing to take a civil approach to others.
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