Who leads the hymns at Cal's church?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scout and Jem's visit to Calpurnia's church is a real culture shock for the Finch children. Everything about the place is completely different to what they're used to. For one thing, the style of worship is a world away from that of their own church. Instead of everyone singing from hymn books, the congregation is led in song by Calpurnia's son, Zeebo. This is part of a long-standing tradition of worship in African-American churches, where the emphasis is very much on the oral transmission of the Bible as well as the words of hymns. Scout and Jem are utterly fascinated by this glimpse of a whole different world. Their brief, but unforgettable experience at Calpurnia's church represents another stage on their journey into maturity and understanding.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jem and Scout go to church with Calpurnia because Atticus is out of town.  Calpurnia's church is called First Purchase African M.E. Church.  Scout asks Calpurnia about the hymn books.  Calpurnia tells her that they do not have any.  At Scout and Jem's church, the congregation reads the lyrics to the songs from hymn books.  

Zeebo, Calpurnia's son, is the music superintendent at First Purchase.  It is his job to lead the congregation in song.  He stands up and is "carrying a battered hymn-book" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 12).  He turns to face the congregation.  Then Zeebo recites the words from the hymn book and the congregants repeat them in song.  

Scout and Jem are amazed at this new and unfamiliar way of singing church songs.  Though there are no hymn books, the congregation knows the words to the songs with the help of Zeebo.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial