To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 12 Summary and Analysis
by Harper Lee

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Chapter 12 Summary and Analysis

Part II begins with Scout emphasizing the divide between her and Jem. He's twelve now and has pulled away from Scout, bossing her around and telling her to act like a girl, though her tomboy clothes never bothered him before. This would be fine to Scout if Dill were there, but he's forced to stay in Meridian because he has a new stepfather. What's worse, Atticus is called away for an emergency meeting of the State Legislature, so Scout and Jem are left in the care of Calpurnia. If not for an incident where Scout and Jem, along with a few of their friends, took advantage of the absence of authority figures and tied a girl named Eunice up in the furnace room at Church, then maybe they'd be allowed to go to Church on their own on Sunday. Instead, Calpurnia decides to take them to First Purchase African M.E. Church, so called because it was the first purchase the freed slaves made with their wages.

For the most part, the African Americans Jem and Scout meet at First Purchase are very polite to them and don't mind having white children in their church. The primary exception to this is Lula, a large, seemingly seven foot tall woman who doesn't like that the kids are there. Lula wants this church to be just for African Americans, a safe space where their community can come together, without having to fear white people or their presence. Reverend Sykes, however, welcomes Jem and Scout to their church. Though they don't have hymnals, the Reverend is able to lead the flock through hymns using a process called "lining," that is, reading a hymn line by line so members of the congregation can read or sing it back. When collection time comes, Reverend Sykes demands that the congregation come together to give ten dollars to Helen Robinson, Tom Robinson's wife, who is, unsurprisingly, having trouble finding work. After Church, Scout finally learns what Tom is on trial for: he has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, Bob Ewell's daughter.

In this same conversation, Scout also learns that Calpurnia is older than Atticus, that she's one of only four African Americans in Maycomb who can read, and that she was taught to read by Miss Maudie Atkinson's aunt, Miss Buford. When Jem asks Calpurnia why she speaks differently (that is, more colloquially) around African Americans, Calpurnia says if she spoke like a white person at home it would seem like she was putting on airs. This leads to Scout asking if she can come to Calpurnia's house sometime. Calpurnia says she would like that.

Unfortunately, when they get home from Church, they find that Aunt Alexandra has come to stay with them and that she might have something to say about Scout visiting Calpurnia.


The Commentaries on the Laws of England by Sir William Blackstone. First published from 1765 to 1769, Blackstone's Commentaries is divided into four volumes and for many years was considered the definitive book on English law. That Calpurnia taught Zeebo how to read out of it seems absurd to Jem, who knows that the commentaries are extremely dry and difficult to get through for a first-time reader.

Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane, which sits at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples are said to have slept in the garden on the night before his crucifixion. Every pew in First Purchase comes with fans that have a "garish" image of Gethsemane on it (garish, no doubt, because the Garden of Gethsemane isn't appropriate subject matter for a cheap fan).

"The Light of the World" by William Holman Hunt. Hunt's allegorical painting depicts Jesus standing at a door, preparing to knock, as in Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." First Purchase uses a rotogravure print of the painting as decoration.

"On Jordan's Stormy Banks."  A religious hymn composed by Samuel Stennett, a Seventh Day Baptist. There are several other hymns sung during the scene in...

(The entire section is 1,411 words.)