Calpurnia and scout relationship problems

calpurnia and scout relationship problems

First, the relationship between the written world of the text and the unwritten . While Mockingbird's Calpurnia readily assented to Scout's request to visit her The connection between the "servant problem" and the "negro. Scout used to believe that Boo was crazy. like most of the other kids thought. She used to. play a game, where her, Jem and Dill would. pretend. Get an answer for 'What is Scout's relationship with Calpurnia like in To Kill a punishes them when they are out of line, and imparts life lessons and advice.

Calpurnia said that she had missed Scout that day while she and Jem were at school. All of a sudden, Calpurnia was really nice to Scout. She let Scout watch her fix supper, she made crackling bread for her, and she even kissed her. Scout describes how she feels after all this behaviour: She had wanted to make up wth me, that was it. She had always been too hard on me, she had at last seen the error of her fractious ways, she was sorry and too stubborn to say so.

Scout is deeply hurt when Calpurnia tells her that picking on Walter Cunningham while he eats at their place is rude and that Scout should stop that and never do it again. Here, Scout thinks that Calpurnia is being mean to her again, but when she grows up a little, she will be thankful to Calpurnia because she taught her about being polite and respectful to her guests.

Despite all this, there is, however, a positive side to this relationship. She also likes her because Cal is not a racist and she is very protective of her and Jem. The lady that Scout probably dislikes the most is her grade one teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher.

Scout's Relationships by nicole sampson on Prezi

That upsets Miss Caroline so she gives Scout some quick little pats on her hand with a ruler and tells her to stand in the corner.

Scout feels embarrassed and she hates Miss Caroline for all the hard time she has given her that morning. However, later Scout realizes that Miss Caroline did not know Maycomb, and could not just learn it in one day.

Scout then comes to terms that it was wrong to become upset with Miss Caroline. Merriweather played her voice like an organ" — and her frenzied assertion, "no conception, no conception," appeal over Scout's head to the reader As such, it is possible that there are other moments in the text in which Scout's naivety about sexual matters suggests that there is more to be drawn from her depiction of relationships and events than has hitherto been noted.

One such moment might be Atticus's assertion that Calpurnia is a "faithful member" of the Finch family. Atticus, in his apparent purity, seems to be something of a sexual cold-fish. Indeed, Diann Baecker extends frequent parallels between Atticus and Jesus, writing that the former, "is almost Christ-like in his devotion to what is good and true and in his virginal asexuality;" further suggesting that he "has been widowed for a number of years, but never even dates another woman.

Underpinning the assumption of Atticus's sexual chasteness are, however, two further assumptions: This, despite his courtroom admission that "there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire" Any suggestion that Atticus took advantage of sexual opportunities in Montgomery while a state legislator would seem to be belied by the newspaper cartoon. There are, nevertheless, reasons, historical and textual, to suggest that Atticus may have satiated his sexual desires much closer to home.

Atticus grew up on Finch's Landing, a cotton plantation founded by his ancestor Simon Finch who traveled from England for Philadelphia, thence to Jamaica, and finally to Alabama where he bought three slaves and established his homestead. At the Landing, the potential sexual activity of Simon's white daughters was strictly policed.

The "daughters' rooms could be reached only by one staircase That Atticus is said to be related to "nearly every family in town" without reference to race suggests the scope of Simon Finch's sexual activity. The diaries of Thomas Thistlewood, a British citizen who chronicled his time on sugar plantations in eighteenth-century Jamaica, suggest the sexual habits that the Finch patriarch may have picked up there.

Living openly with slave or free mulatto concubines brought no social condemnation. White men were expected to have sex with black women, whether black women wanted sex or not. In the novel's first open acknowledgement of miscegenation, Jem observes of Raymond, "He's got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun'" In response to the observation that Raymond "doesn't look like trash," Jem says, "He's not, he owns all one side of the riverbank down there, and he's from a real old family to boot" Ibid.

Raymond was supposed to marry "one of the Spender ladies," but following the wedding rehearsal, the would-be bride went upstairs "and blew her head off. She pulled the trigger with her toes. Despite Jem's use of the possessive — "He's got a colored woman" — critics have frequently romanticized or legalized Raymond's relationship. Claudia Durst Johnson describes Raymond as, "a white man who embraces the Other in taking a black wife and fathering her children.

Jochem Riesthuis identifies "the romantic figure of Mr. Dolphus Raymond" whose "narrative is in itself symbolic of the harshness of life in a small southern town, where condemnation and interference are never far away. Raymond has such long-lasting loving feelings for her, how much freedom does she ever feel to reject him?

This information is offered only in passing when Reverend Sykes tells Jem how Tom hurt his arm: Dolphus Raymond's cotton gin when he was a boy" As such, the reader might be forgiven for missing it. But Riesthuis's point about meaningful consent is significant: It further suggests a hitherto unnoticed pairing of characters, or what Evans calls "unlikely duo[s]," in the text.

Atticus Dreams of Calpurnia Finch In a novel in which even the rabid dog shot by Atticus has a surname, it is curious that Calpurnia's is not revealed, not in Mockingbird nor in Watchman; not least because family names are so important in Maycomb.

It is a significant "unsaid" of the novel. Nevertheless, the historical context of the novel suggests that Calpurnia is, most likely, a Finch: Returning from Calpurnia's church, the children discover that she grew up at Finch's Landing.

Essay: To Kill A Mockingbird

I've spent all my days workin' for the Finches or the Bufords, an' I moved to Maycomb when your daddy and your mamma married" As she is a little older than Atticus, who was born around the late s or early s, it is likely that Calpurnia's mother, at least, was owned by the Finches.

Certainly, Calpurnia's observation that she does not "have a real birthday," and just has "it on Christmas, it's easier to remember that way," suggests that her mother, if not technically a slave at the time of Calpurnia's birth, was living in bondage As Frederick Douglass observed, "I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.

It is, of course, possible that Calpurnia was a Buford, not least because Miss Buford, Maudie Atkinson's aunt, taught Calpurnia to read.

calpurnia and scout relationship problems

Nevertheless, Atticus's father took a special interest in Calpurnia, providing her a copy of Blackstone's Commentaries from which she taught Zeebo to read. Were Calpurnia a Buford, moreover, there would have been no need to suppress her surname in the text: This omission may suggest the existence of another hitherto overlooked textual possibility that might serve, like the mystery of Boo Radley, as a structuring absence in the novel.

Of all the novel's critics, only Jennifer Murray seems to get close to identifying it. Noting that there is no mention of a partner or a father to Calpurnia's children, she asks, "Would it give too much implicit sexual substance to Calpurnia? Would it create an implicit triangle with Atticus? There are, however, at least two occasions in Mockingbird when this possibility is strongly suggested. The first occurs when Calpurnia, Jem, and Scout are accosted by Lula at the church. Making clear her displeasure at the children's presence, Lula asks, contemptuously, why the children are there.

The remark causes a murmur to run through the crowd, and while Calpurnia is said to be indignant, she never responds. If Lee achieved her goal of being the "Jane Austen of south Alabama," this may be her "silence of the Bertrams" moment. She tells Atticus, "You've got a daughter to think of. A daughter who's growing up" Given that she has a black chauffeur, Alexandra's objections would not appear to be towards African American servants in general, but rather towards Calpurnia in particular.

It is, moreover, hard to imagine that Aunt Alexandra, she of tight corsets and afternoon teas, would be willing to do the work of a black maid. Indeed, because having a maid was, in this period, an important status symbol, being without one would have been as socially uncomfortable for Aunt Alexandra as it was physically demanding. Thus, it might be argued, Mockingbird's Calpurnia was to be replaced rather than simply dismissed.

Alexandra had, furthermore, grown up at the Landing and was, perhaps, familiar with the sexual aspect — past or present — of her brother's relationship with Calpurnia. Her apparent lack of concern about Jem's awareness of the relationship would, moreover, suggest the inevitability — and tacit acceptance — of white-men-black-women couplings in small Southern towns. The Atticus and Calpurnia nexus is further suggested by the conflicting accounts of Calpurnia's arrival in Maycomb. Initially, Scout observes that Calpurnia "had been with us ever since Jem was born," suggesting that she came as a nursemaid to help a new mother with her baby 7.

Calpurnia, however, says that she moved to Maycomb two years earlier, when Atticus married Scout's mother, suggesting the possibility an ongoing concubinage Such a relationship might, moreover, explain why Atticus waited so long to get married, and why, when he did so, he married a woman fifteen-years his junior to whom he was seemingly ill suited. In Mockingbird, we learn very little about Scout's mother.

Nevertheless, in an interesting parallel to Calpurnia's unmentioned surname, Mrs. What little we do learn suggests that Mrs. Finch was the sort of society woman in whom Atticus had little interest. The two objects ascribed to her — an old fashioned heavy silver coffee pitcher and a silver dinner bell 62 — suggest an existence marked by women's missionary circle coffees, and being waited on by Calpurnia.

Dubose, the epitome of old Southern womanhood, held Scout's mother in such high esteem — "A lovelier lady than your mother never lived" — would seem to support the suggestion that Mrs.

Finch was a society woman Interestingly, Watchman ascribes a third object to Mrs. Thus, it might be possible to identify another set of paired duos: Whereas Raymond was unsuccessful in his attempt to marry and maintain his illicit relationship the discovery of his plans leading his betrothed to kill herselfAtticus may have been successful until a similar discovery: Scout's mother died of a broken heart.

There are further aspects of Mockingbird which suggest a sexual relationship between Atticus and Calpurnia: In addition, the moment when Calpurnia fondly recalls a conversation with her employer about their respective ages seems, in the context of their more formal relationship, strangely intimate.

Zeebo makes two appearances in Mockingbird. First, he cleans up after one of Atticus's secrets is revealed: Second, he displays his literacy — gained by way of the book given to Calpurnia by Atticus's father — when he leads the church congregation in song. He is the father of Frank, the young man involved in the car accident; he appears on either side of Jean Louise's visit to Calpurnia's house; and his marital life is a subject of discussion by, among others, Jean Louise, Aunt Alexandra, and Atticus.

jem and scout relationship essay

While Atticus tried to reconcile Zeebo with Helen, his first wife and the likely mother of Frank, there is no indication that Atticus tried the same with any of his other wives. Atticus's interest in his maid's son's marital life may be unusual, but less unusual, perhaps, than Alexandra's interest in the same. The reasons for this unexpected concern may become clearer once it is acknowledged that Zeebo's son, and Aunt Alexandra's son, have the same name. An American Controversy, "often signal family ties.

That Frank, Zeebo's son, and Francis, Alexandra's son, have different versions of the same name might indicate a shared ancestor, not least because, Zeebo, like Alexandra, grew up at the Landing.

calpurnia and scout relationship problems

It is possible that Zeebo and Alexandra drew on the same family source when naming their children, just as Jem was named after his father and grandfather, and Jean Louise after her mother and grandmother The connection is leant further frisson by the recognition that Harper Lee's mother was named Frances Cunningham Finch. Indeed, Atticus's interest in Zeebo's marriage to Helen might suggest a concern about his grandson's and his not-quite-daughter-in-law's well-being.

How does Harper Lee portray the relationship of Scout and Calpurnia?

Zeebo's choice of name for his son could, furthermore, be an attempt to assert his own legitimacy in the face of the no doubt humiliating experience of being publicly denied by his white father. Likewise, the miscegenation implicit in the mention of the Creek Indian Wars — fought over precisely that issue — that appears briefly in the third paragraph of Mockingbird, and more explicitly on the eighth page of Watchman, is not, on its own, sufficient to support the claim that the theme is more important to the novel than has been suggested.

Nevertheless, the totality of these and the previously identified aspects of the novels suggest that such a relationship is a strong possibility. Certainly, it is supported by more evidence than the simple assertion — made by other critics — that Calpurnia is single, married, or widowed. The point is, perhaps, that while Lee does not give us enough information to state definitively that there is such a relationship in the text, she does not give us enough information to rule it out.

This argument nevertheless raises the question of why, if, as has been suggested, the relationship is strongly hinted at, it is never directly stated. A possible answer may be found in both the author's literary model and the way in which the text might seek to work on its readers.

Prior to declaring her wish to be the Jane Austen of south Alabama, Lee observed that her objective was to "leave some record of the kind of life that existed in a very small world. In an essay on the two writers, Jean Frantz Blackall observes, "for Lee to write truthfully of the small southern town, she found herself drawn into the representation of elements As such, the novels demand more from the reader than the partial vision — literal and figurative — exhibited by many of their protagonists.

By offering repeated suggestions about the possibility of the Atticus and Calpurnia relationship, the texts seem to demand that we pay attention to that which is hidden — in both the text and in life — by the concern with sexual violence by black men against white women, including the far more pernicious and prevalent sexual violence of white men against black women.

Rape, Agency, Sex, and Politics Historically, the partial liberation of black women from plantation life into domestic service did little to free them from sexual violence. The proximity of white men to African American women in the households where the women worked created enormous tensions for all of the women concerned, black and white.

Sexual harassment by and nonconsensual sexual relationships with males living in the employer's house was one of the most difficult aspects of domestic service Calpurnia was in Atticus's or his family's employ in the two locations where sexual relations between white men and black women were most common: The veritable silence about this relationship, beyond the subtle references and allusions scattered throughout the two novels, might be considered evidence against the claim, and yet, chronicling small town life in the way Lee desired would make such silences an historically accurate depiction of the attitudes of white society towards such intimacies.

Echoing Miss Maudie's observation that, "The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets —" 61Dollard observes, "it is difficult to secure testimony on this score from white partners to such relationships; the only hints come from the gossip of other white people and the testimony of Negro women.

He recounts the story of "a judge of the supreme court of the state," who "had a Negro mistress living in a cabin in his back yard. The very ubiquity of such relationships is further suggested by Dollard's further account of a white lawyer in the same town with an illegitimate African American daughter, and by Moates's account of Monroeville life in the s.

It is a relationship that Atticus — and a longstanding taboo against their being openly discussed — could well have kept "secret," at least by the town's standards on such issues. This raises of, course, the uncomfortable — for some — possibility that Atticus Finch was a rapist. The claim that Thomas Jefferson repeatedly raped Sally Hemings because she could not, in any meaningful sense, consent to sex during their year relationship, is, Gordon-Reed observes, a problematic one.

It is, she says, predicated upon "a sophisticated technique": It presents the proponent of the idea as enlightened and forward thinking with regard to the nature of slavery, even as that individual promotes a cardboard version of the system.

It is all the more seductive because the idea is not without merit.

Essay: To Kill A Mockingbird

The slave system was inherently coercive. Therefore, one could argue, every act of sex between a master and slave was the equivalent of nonconsensual sex, in other words, rape. We may know this is true in the theoretical sense, but something should tell us that it cannot have been true in every situation, under every circumstance Do we really believe that over the entire course of slavery in the United States, no master and slave woman ever experienced a mutual sexual or emotional attachment to one another?

Although the advantages of miscegenation to white men are obvious, paying attention to the benefits that sometimes accrued to black women permits readers to bracket the sentimentality that infects many accounts of such relationships; it thus restores a degree of agency to the women who were a part of these common, but frequently overlooked, pairings. Recognizing that some of these relationships were, whatever else they might have been, often a form of strategic resistance, situates these woman in a tradition of black women's private — and later public — struggles against racial and sexual subordination.

It permits the acknowledgement of their resilience and agency in ways the victim or loving participant binary makes impossible. It also demonstrates that the dominant understanding of Calpurnia in Mockingbird is a white fantasy that not only captures the blindness of Lee's white characters to the complexities of white-black relations in the period in which the book was set, but also the ongoing blindness of white readers divorced from their own history.

James McBride writes of Calpurnia, "I think she was a wonderful character, but you always live in that tight space when you're black.

calpurnia and scout relationship problems

Harper Lee's approach gave Calpurnia some dimension. Calpurnia had a deep understanding of these issues, although she was restricted in terms of what she could do about a lot of these things. Burnard's account of such agency in the Jamaican sugar plantations — the economic foundation of Atticus's law practice — is equally applicable to the Finches' American cotton fields.

Nevertheless, failing to recognize such agency is a failure to recognize black resistance, even if, as Gordon-Reed points out about Hemings, it is "especially hard and unpleasant for some to think that a black woman might have exercised her will, circumscribed as it was, by saying yes to Thomas Jefferson and, in doing so, have been able to exercise some influence over him.