Who is Zeebo in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Zeebo, the garbage collector, is the oldest son of Calpurnia, the Finches' maid.

Mentioned briefly in Chapter 10 in which Atticus shoots the rabid dog, Zeebo lifts the dead Tim Johnson with a pitchfork and tosses it into the back of the garbage truck. Then, he pours disinfectant on and around the place where the dog has fallen, telling the children too not come near the place for a while.

The next time that Jem and Scout see Zeebo is the Sunday that Calpurnia takes them to the First Purchase African M. E. Church in the Quarters in the southern end of town. After the tall woman named Lula accosts Calpurnia, demanding to know why the white children are in the black church, she moves away as others approach. From this group, Zeebo steps forward and greets Jem:

"Mister Jem," he said, "we're mighty glad to have you all here. Don't pay no attention to Lula, she's contentious because Reverend Sykes threatened to church her. She's a troublemaker from way back....we're mighty glad to have you all."

During the service, Jem and Scout are surprised that there are no hymn-books in the pews. Later, when Zeebo rises from his pew holding a well-worn hymn-book, he tells the congregation that they will sing a certain hymn. Scout asks Calpurnia how they will sing this hymn when there are no books. Calpurnia smiles and tells Scout that she will soon learn. Then, Zeebo clears his throat and reads in a voice "like the rumble of distant artillery" the first line of the hymn, and the congregation sing in melodious unison until Zeebo reads the final line. After the Sunday service is ended, the children learn that Calpurnia has taught Zeebo to read from the Bible and a book given to her by Mrs. Buford in which she learned to read. 

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alexb2's profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

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Zeebo is a garbage truck driver in Maycomb. He collected Tim Johnson's body and is the son of Calpurnia, who was the Finch's housekeeper. She was taught to read by Maudie's Aunt, and in turn taught Zeebo to read, at one point using Blackstone's Commentaries as a text.