Calpurnia’s Relationship With Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In Calpurnia’s relationship with Scout, she does not invite the child into the agon of discussion. Scout is an observant young girl. Atticus is a tremendous influence on her and she looks to him as a role model for how she should act and treat others. However, he is not always there to monitor her every move or need. That is where Calpurnia comes in. The African- American housekeeper that came with Atticus to Maycomb, Calpurnia is the closest thing Scout and Jern have to a mother figure. While calling someone a maternal figure usually indicates the person possesses caring, nurturing, and gentle qualities, Calpurnia is not the ideal “mother figure”. She is not a pushover. She is confident and stubborn, unwilling to bend to what Scout wants. This is not a bad thing A child is prone to have flights of fancy and act out. At the beginning of the novel, Scout describes their “battles“ as “epic and one-sided” and Calpurnia’s presence as “tyrannical”.

Calpurnia usually wins because she has Atticus on her side It seems to go against the social norms of the time that white people had more power than African- American people, but here, Calpurnia is the person in charge. She is in a position of power over Scout, especially when she is backed up by Atticus, who is the pinnacle of civil agon. While Calpurnia respects Scout as a person, she still expects Scout to follow her rules without question. In this way, Calpurnia does not include Scout in the agon, Aunt Alexandra does not invite Calpurnia into the agon of discussion. Atticus’ sister, Aunt Alexandra, is a privileged white woman living during the time of segregation in the South. She holds a position of power over the African-American housekeeper Calpurnia and treats her accordingly.

At one point, she literally waits for Calpurnia to leave the room, then berates Atticus for speaking about sensitive topics on from of Calpurnia. While this may seem like benevolent action, not wanting Calpurnia to hear about a man who despises the African-American people of the town, Aunt Alexandra has an ulterior motive to her actions. After Atticus tells her that he sees Calpurnia as a member of their family and that they speak plainly in front of her, Aunt Alexandra says “I don’t think it’s a good habit, Atticus. It encourages them. You know how they talk among themselves. It is clear from this exchange that Aunt Alexandra is seeking to reinforce the social norms of the time: African-Americans are looked down upon and do not deserve the same treatment as white people There is no mutual respect or understanding here. In this way, Aunt Alexandra does not include Calpurnia in the agon Francis Hancock does not invite Scout into the agon of discussion.

Francis is Scout’s privileged cousin, the son of her Aunt Alexandra, Francis and his mother share many characteristics. They are shallow, racist, and overly concerned with the opinions of others Scout cannot stand dealing with Francis but must see him every year at Christmas. Jem leaves her alone with Francis once they arrive and Francis, who is around the same age as Scout, begins to needle her with jabs at her upbringing and Atticus for defending Tom Robinson. He is clearly saying things to get a rise out of Scoutr He starts by laughing at Dill, who Scout cares for very much, and dismisses Scout when she protests what he says. He calls Atticus a “nigger-lover” for taking on the Ewell vs. Robinson case and says the family “will never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again” due to Atticus ”minin’ the family”.

By his words and actions here, Francis is not looking to enter into a respectful and understanding debate. He is not open to change and only seeks to force his opinion on Scout In this way, Francis does not invite Scout into the agon. Miss Maudie invites Scout into the agon of discussion Miss Maudie is one of the Finch’s neighbors and has known their family for decades. Scout’s relationship with Miss Maudie began when the lady allowed her, Jem, and Dill to play on her property as long as they did not mess up her flowers and progressed when Dill and Jem got older and began to exclude her from their adventures during the summer, At first, Scout did not speak with Miss Maudie and Miss Maudie made no attempt to speak to her, outside of explaining her rules. When Dill and Jem start to play without her, Scout and Miss Maudie become closer.

Their relationship becomes friendlier and the two develop an understanding. Miss Maudie makes the effort to establish a respectful relationship, When she makes cakes, she includes Jem and Scout by making them small treats too. She impresses Scout by removing her bridgework so that Scout can examine it. She makes Scout comfortable enough that Scout feels safe enough to ask about Boo Radley, to which she provides the best information she can. Overall, Miss Maudie enters conversations with Scout with no ulterior motives, she is there have a discussion with someone she does not look down on In this way, Miss Maudie includes Scout in the agon. Mrsi Dubose does not invite Jem into the agon of discussion. Mrsi Dubose is the Finches‘ neighbor who has some choice words to say Scout comments that “neighborhood opinion was unanimous that Mrs. Dubose was the meanest old woman who ever lived”.

She is unabashed in her racist comments toward the African-American community of the town and derogatory comments toward Atticus when the town learns that he will be defending Tom Robinson in the Ewell case, The comments about Atticus in particular strike a chord with Jem. At first, he tries to listen to Atticus’ advice and keep his head high while ignoring her comments but his attitude breaks where Mrsi Dubose calls out “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for.” This causes Jem to snap and destroy the flowers on Mrs. Dubose’ property Many of the comments leading up this event were purposively provocative One could chalk up Mrs, Dubose comments to her being a grouchy old lady, but much of what she says is direct attacks at the Finches, their education, Atticus’ parenting, and the children overall.

These comments cannot be misconstrued as anything but the attacks that they are Mrs, Dubose is not looking to provide these comments so that she and the Finch children could have a civil discussion about how to address problems going forward, she said them to get a reaction. She does not show respect to Jem or Scout (or even Atticus) and she keeps her social status high ground. Given that she resorts quickly to personal attacks, Mrs. Dubose embodies the very spirit of antagonism. In this way, Mrs. Dubose does not include Jem in the agon. Judge Taylor invite Tom Robinson into the agon. He does this in two ways. The first takes place during the trialt Judge Taylor refers to Tom by his first name, as does Atticus. This shows the respect Tom is denied later by Mr. Gilmer, who repeatedly refers to him as “boy”. The second takes place before the trial.

He appoints Atticus to be Tom’s defendant After the trial, Miss Maudie tells Jem, who is feeling disappointed and confused about the case, that there was a reason Atticus has been given the case Scout notes at this point that Maxwell Green, the newest addition to the bar, was usually given the court—appointed defense positions because he needed the experience Judge Taylor recognized that Tom Robinson was at a disadvantage by being a black man during a racist time in American society. Public opinion would have already been against him. By assigning Atticus to the case, Judge Taylor is elevating Tom‘s chance of being taken seriously in court, He is showing respect and understanding towards Tom’s situation and doing his best to even the playing field. In this way, Judge Taylor invites Tom into the agon. Tom Robinson invites Mayella Ewell into the agon of discussion.

According to Tom Robison, he and Mayella Ewell had met before either of them appeared in court for Tom‘s trial. While Mayella makes it seem like the attack was her first meeting with Tom, Tom makes it clear that he had helped her with several tasks for some time before that. Over that period of Lime, Tom and Mayella had had many interactions where Torn had been very respectful of her position and status. He had completed tasks for her with no prior notice and no compensation, respected the boundary of the Ewell property and did not cross it without her permission, and admired the way she took care of all of her siblings and the property without help from others. Even with his inferior social status, Tom entered into their interactions with understanding and no ulterior motives. He did not do the small fixes around the house to improve his social status or to get closer to Mayella, he did them because he is a helpful, upstanding person.

He always shows respect for Mayella, even when she does not do the same for him. In this way, Tom Robinson includes Mayella Ewell in the agon. Boo Radley invites Scout in the agon. While we do not see much of Boo until the end as his character is only mentioned through the conversation and imaginative stories of other characters, he holds significant influence. Scout and Jem spend much of their summer with Dill trying to learn more about him. Boo sees this, and against his loner nature, helps them He crafts and leaves them present in the tree where he know they will find them, He provides them with a blanket when they are standing outside of his house in the freezing cold without them noticing He mends Jem’s pants when they’re ripped from Jem escaping the garden, He protects them from Bob Ewell‘s attack. Boo is a rare character that does not reflect his character through words, but through action.

He does not say to Scout that he cares for her and her brother and their safety, he shows them. If anything, this is the purest form of agon, one that is so inviting, it does not need words to convey meaning. In this way, Boo Radley invites Scout into the agon, Scout invites Boo Radley into the agon. Scout’s relationship with Boo Radley is complicated. At the beginning of the novel, Scout is afraid of Boo; all of the tales Jem has told her make her think of B00 as a dangerous figure, including notions like him eating animals raw and being zombie like in appearance and manner. These are tales told by children who, having no physical evidence to prove otherwise, weave fantastical stories born of imagination.

However, Scout is never antagonistic to Boo: she is cautiously intrigued During the novel, there are times when Boo acts positively towards Scout and Jem: leaving them presents in the tree hollow, giving them a blanket when the fire burns down Miss Maudie’s house, repairing Jem’s pants, Toward the end of the novel, after Scout and Jem are attacked by Bob Ewell and saved by Boo Radley, Scout and Boo meet for the first time face-to-face. Scout now recognizes the gentle and kind nature of B00 Radley and is no longer afraid of him. It takes her time, but she is now fully able to engage in the agon with him.

When Sherriff Tate implies that Boo would rather stay out the news as it would cause him distress, Scout picks up on this quickly, later relating it to Atticus, “it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” Scout now realizes that she must bring herself to Boo’s level if she wants to continue her interactions with him. She takes the steps to be more understanding and respectful of his situation: walking him home when he asks and looking outside from his front porch, literally looking at things from his perspective In this way, Scout invites Boo into the agon.


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Calpurnia’s Relationship With Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (2023, Jun 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/calpurnias-relationship-with-scout-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird-by-harper-lee/

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