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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What church belief was shared by Scout's normal church and First Purchase in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Both churches denounce sin and bless the needy.

First Purchase is the African American church in Maycomb.  This is the church where Calpurnia worships.  She brings Scout and Jem there one Sunday when Atticus is not home, in order to prevent them from causing trouble at their own church.

It was an ancient paint-peeled frame building, the only church in Maycomb with a steeple and bell, called First Purchase because it was paid for from the first earnings of freed slaves. (Ch. 12)

The church is very different from Scout’s regular church. First of all, almost no one can read.  Calpurnia and her son Zeebo can read, as well as a couple more.  Instead of reading from hymn books, they repeat the lines one at a time.

The sermon itself is pretty similar to those in Scout’s church.  Both involve a “forthright denunciation of sin.”

Reverend Sykes then called on the Lord to bless the sick and the suffering, a procedure no different from our church practice, except Reverend Sykes directed the Deity’s attention to several specific cases. (Ch. 12)

Both churches also take up a collection, but First Purchase designates the money specifically for the Robinson family.  With Tom Robinson in jail accused of raping a white woman, no one will employ Helen Robinson.  The church wants to protect his family and help them out financially.

The purpose of the Finch children’s visit to Calpurnia’s church is to provide a more nuanced view of race relations in Maycomb.  The children are surprised to learn that Calpurnia speaks differently at her church among her own people, because she doesn’t want to be accused of putting on airs by speaking like a white person.  Both churches have similar ways of worship.  We also learn more about the Robinson’s situation and how the African American community takes care of its own.

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