To Kill a Mockingbird
Calpurnia is the black cook and housekeeper for the Finches. She is treated
almost as if she were a member of the family. In some ways she even takes
the place of Scout and Jem's dead mother. But you soon learn that Calpurnia
is not accepted by everyone. Some of the Finches' white friends look down
on Calpurnia as a servant and are shocked to hear Atticus speak freely
in her presence. At the same time, some members of Calpurnia's black church
are very critical of her being on such friendly terms with her white employer.
Calpurnia lives a divided life. You learn, for example, that she learned
to read and write from old law books. In the Finchs' house she speaks
the very correct English of an educated person; at church, however, she
converses in her friends' dialect so they will not feel she is trying
to act superior to them.
Some authors might have presented Calpurnia as a sad figure. They
might have been critical of her for compromising with the white society
that discriminates against blacks. Most readers do not find this attitude
in To Kill a Mockingbird, however. Lee treats Calpurnia as admirable
because she has made the best of her opportunities and has not allowed
herself to become bitter. Calpurnia has a sense of self-worth that is
not affected by the opinions of people around her. This is a way in
which she resembles Atticus.
Charles Baker Harris, known as Dill, is Jem and Scout's first friend from
outside Maycomb. In many respects Dill is a contrast to Jem and Scout.
They come from an old family, and have a father who loves them very much.
Dill, on the other hand, is an unwanted child. He has no father, and his
mother does not want to be bothered with him.
Dill has white-blond hair and blue eyes, a combination that makes
him look rather like a wizened old man. "I'm little but I'm old,"
Dill tells Jem and Scout at their first meeting, and in some ways this
is true. In his short life Dill has seen and done many things that Jem
and Scout have not; he has even seen the movie Dracula. On the other
hand, Dill's stories are not always true; some are a product of his
lively imagination. Dill's imagination is the spark that sets the children
dreaming of ways to lure the hermit Boo Radley out of his house. In
this sense Dill is responsible for setting the action of the plot into
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