I believe that To Kill A Mockingbird is a critical book when it comes to the sensitive topic of our national identity. It tells a story that can not be encapsulated by a chapter in a history textbook, nor the simple summary of a court case. It tells a story of a child’s place in a nation growing through the pain of de facto segregation and the utter dehumanization of human beings simply due to their race. Having concluded my reading of the novel, I have a new respect for Harper Lee as an author for her profound ability to tell such an intimate story of national identity in such an accessible way. To Kill A Mockingbird utilizes utterly unique characters to guide the reader through the novel. Of these expertly crafted characters, I am most enthralled by Atticus and Calpurnia, the Finch children’s Father and Mother figure respectively.
Calpurnia as a character seems to be Atticus’s counterpart. She has raised his children as much as he has, they share the same core beliefs and values that they attempt to pass on to the Finch children. In general they just seem to compliment one another. Calpurnia pushes the boundaries of the traditional role of the African American nanny or housekeeper. She actively engages with the children and even takes them to her church. Through her actions, she seems to me to be the true manifestation of the positive change in a racially conflicted America. In Atticus’s words to Aunt Alexandria, “You may think otherwise, but I couldn’t have got along without [Calpurnia] all these years. She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll simply have to accept things the way they are.” Calpurnia raises the children with modern ideals of acceptance and respectfulness. This was especially clear to the reader when she reprimands Scout for her disrespect towards Walter Cunningham, “Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ comp’ny, and don’t you let me catch you remarkin’ on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracing’ ‘em”. This quote seems to outline Calpurnia’s ideals as a parent figure show how seriously she adheres to these values.
In regards to the discussion, I think that this is the best one we’ve had thus far. I was particularly proud of my idea that Boo Radly is representative of Scout’s guardian angel. Other than that, I think we did a good job of covering multiple points of view and shedding some light on the predicament encountered by Atticus at the end of the story.
To be continued… (wait for part B).