“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Mr.Knott “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” This was said by Atticus Finch in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This book is about a family who lives in a small town named Maycomb, Alabama. This family consists of a single father Atticus Finch, his daughter Jean Louise Finch (Scout), and Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem). Their mother died when they were really young and Atticus hired a maid and a cook named Calpurnia. The Finch children have a best friend named Charles Baker Harris (Dill) who visits each summer.

Atticus is a lawyer defending a black man in a case where he allegedly raped a white woman. The town is shaken by the fact that Atticus chose to defend this man. Throughout the novel, Jem and Scout both mature and figure out what morals are. Scout Finch had many great influences in her life and many of these people taught her great lessons. These lessons helped her grow and become who she is at the end of the book. Scout Finch matured and grew because of the lessons that Calpurnia, Mrs Dubose, and Atticus taught her throughout the novel.

Calpurnia is a black woman who is also the Finches’ maid and cook but she is so much more than that to the children and Atticus. She is like a mother to the children and she is a great help to Atticus. Calpurnia is one of Scout’s biggest influences and she teaches Scout a lot. Calpurnia’s presence helps in moulding Scout’s personality and who she is at the end of the novel. To begin, Calpurnia teaches Scout that sometimes you have to compromise to not get judged.

Calpurnia took Jem and Scout to the First Purchase Church which is the church she goes to. The church is also a black church. When Cal and the kids get there, Calpurnia starts to act and speak like the black people but when she leaves, she starts to act like the “normal” Cal again. She started to speak like she did when she was at the Finches’ house and she did not act the way she did in the church. Scout asked her why she did this and she replied with “Suppose you talked coloured-folks’ talk at home it’d be out of place, wouldn’t it? Now, what if I talked white-folks’ talk at church, and

with my neighbours? They’d think I was puttin’ on airs to beat Moses.” (Lee, Pg. 167)

Cal continues to explain that it is easier to “change” yourself sometimes so you can fit in and not get judged. From this, Scout learns that Cal lives a “modest double life” and she is okay with that. She realizes that it can be easier to do that instead of being judged and hated on for something as simple as your skin colour and race. Additionally, Cal teaches Scout the importance of family. Scout does not have a mother. She died when Scout was very young. Scout learns from Cal that not every family has a mother or a father but it is still a family.

Cal shows Scout that a mother does not have to be the person that gave birth to you but it is someone that mentors and loves you. Cal shows that she is a mother to the children because she disciplines them when they misbehave, she helps them through the toughest times and is always showing them love. Aunt Alexandra and Atticus were talking and Alexandra was telling Atticus that he has to fire Cal and he replies with “Alexandra, Calpurnia’s not leaving this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn’t have got along without her all these years. She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll simply have to accept things the way they are.” (Lee, Pg. 182)

At first, Scout did not have much appreciation for Cal, until later she realizes how much she means to her. She started to recognize that Cal is the mother that she never had. She then stopped taking Cal for granted and wanted to spend more time with her because she realized that Cal is family. Finally, Calpurnia teaches Scout about mannerism and respecting other kids.

One day at school, Scout invites Walter Cunningham, a poor farmer, home for dinner and he  agrees. When he comes over, he pours a lot of maple syrup on his food. Scout looks at him and asks what he was doing and Atticus tells her to stop. She then proceeds to say “But he’s gone and drowned his dinner in syrup. He’s poured it all over-” (Lee, Pg. 32). Calpurnia calls Scout into the kitchen because she was mad. Calpurnia then says “Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house, they are company and don’t let me catch you remarking on their ways like you were so high and mighty.” (Lee, Pg. 33)

Scout learns that she is like everyone else and she should treat them with respect because she is no different than the rest. After Calpurnia said this to Scout, she returned to the table and sat quietly to finish eating. This happened in chapter 3 of the novel and ever since then, Scout treated everyone respectfully and she understood that she is equal to everyone. Calpurnia was one of Scout’s biggest influences in the novel. Scout listened to Cal the most because she did not have a mother and Cal filled that place because she understood Scout. Cal taught Scout some very important lessons that helped her grow and mature as a person.

Mrs Dubose was an elderly woman who lives down the street from the Finch family. Mrs Dubose was not the nicest lady, as she was always complaining about and insulting the Finches. Every time she saw the children, she would have something to say to them and they tried their hardest to ignore her. One day, the children were walking by and Mrs Dubose calls Atticus a black lover. Jem got so mad that he ripped up and destroyed her camellia plants. His punishment was that he had to go read to Mrs Dubose every afternoon and Scout volunteered to go with him. Mrs Dubose also taught Scout some very valuable lessons that she would hold onto.

Primarily, she teaches Scout and Jem how to respect other people. Scout and Jem were in this position because Jem disrespected Mrs Dubose and her property. If he did not do this, then the children would not have to be reading to her every afternoon. In addition, she teaches Jem and Scout how to control their emotions. Scout learned this from Jem’s mistakes. When Mrs Dubose insulted Atticus, the kids could have turned a blind eye to it and ignored it. Instead, Jem got mad and ripped up the camellias. Scout learned that it is better to control your emotions and not let them get the best of you because there are always consequences.

Finally, the most important lesson that Mrs Dubose taught the kids is that you can overcome anything if you believe. She had a morphine addiction and she wanted to overcome that before she dies so she could die without regrets. Mrs Dubose was extremely courageous and everyone who knew what she was going through noticed that. Atticus was talking to his children about her courageousness and he said, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.” (Lee, Pg. 149).

Scout then learned that if you have something that you want to overcome, you have to power through and overcome it. She realized that if you have the courage and you believe in yourself, you can do anything. The town may have viewed Mrs Dubose as a bitter old woman, but she had her good side to her. When she was not being mean to the children and Scout got to know her, she was a very nice woman. She taught Scout things that she would hold onto and value for the rest of her childhood.

Atticus Finch was Scout’s biggest role model and he taught her the most out of everyone in the novel. He taught her everything that she needs to know about society and people. Scout cherished and valued each and every one of the lessons that her father taught her, no matter how big or small.