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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

THE NOVEL

THE CHARACTERS

  • CALPURNIA

    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.


  • DILL

    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 motion.

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    ECC [To Kill a Mockingbird Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

    © Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
    Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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