Calpurnia enters into the story very early on in To Kill a Mockingbird, and is an integral part in the story. She works for the Finch family as their cook and mother figure. We get a very clear picture of Calpurnia in Chapter One. “She was all angles and bones. ” This suggests the maybe she doesn’t have much money to buy food or that she is older. It also shows that she is older because “She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence for as long as I could remember. She doesn’t take any nonsense from the fact that “Our battles were epic and one-sided. ” That Calpurnia had been with the Finches since Jem’s birth suggests that she is part of the family. Atticus trusts her to take care of the children when he is gone.
“But there came a day when Atticus told us he’d wear us out if we made any noise in the yard and commissioned Calpurnia to serve in his absence if she heard a sound out of us. ” He trusts her to discipline the children “Her hand was as wide as bed slat and twice as hard. When Scout questions Walter’s eating habits at the table in Chapter Three, Calpurnia is the one to discipline her. She says “‘That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear? ’” Atticus trusts her to take care of the children properly. Calpurnia is like a surrogate mother to the children. For example, when Scout refuses to gargle after chewing the Double-Mint gum, Jem threatens her with “you don’t ’n’ I’ll tell Calpurnia on you! ” As gruff as may come off, she really does love the children.
When Scout starts going to school, Calpurnia softens up. ‘“I missed you today. ’” She sets the boundaries for the children. “Our summertime boundaries (within calling distance of Calpurnia) were Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose’s house and the Radley place three doors to the south. ” Calpurnia really treats the children as if they were her own. Calpurnia is more educated than most African-American people in Maycomb. She taught Scout to write. “She would set me a writing task by scrawling the alphabet firmly across the top a tablet, then copying out a chapter of Bible beneath. If Scout copied it up to her standards, she was rewarded. That she did this shows she knew more than most black people would know in Maycomb and it is yet another example of her mothering Scout. Calpurnia speaks as well as any other white person in Maycomb, except when she is mad. As shown when she disciplines Scout for the dinner incident with Walter. “She was furious, and when she was furious Calpurnia’s grammar became erratic. When in tranquility, her grammar was as good as anybody’s in Maycomb.
Atticus said Calpurnia had more education than colored folks” Calpurnia tries to show Scout and Jem that there is no difference between white and African-American people. “For Calpurnia rarely commented on the ways of white people. ” Calpurnia speaks like any other person in Maycomb to show the children she is equal to the white people in town. She has manners that are as good as anyone else in town. When Scout questions Walter’s eating habits, Calpurnia shows good manners in telling Scout to allow Walter carry on and be polite.
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