To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 12

Scout notices that Jem is changing in many ways: “He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling….” He now values his privacy, likes to be by himself, and even spends time reading the newspaper. According to Scout, Jem has acquired a new set of values, which he tries to impose on her, to her annoyance and dismay. It is also clear that he is beginning to understand certain things in the adult world. For example, he is able to explain to Scout the meaning of the puzzling political cartoon about Atticus that appears in The Montgomery Advertiser. At the beginning of the novel, Jem saw the world similar to the way Scout saw it, with a child’s point of view. Now, he exhibits a wiser and more serious attitude toward it, as an adult would. A major theme in To Kill a Mockingbird is the journey from youth and innocence tomaturity and knowledge. How does Jem symbolize this theme in Chapter Twelve? Whatevidence indicates that he is growing up and changing?
Dill sends Scout a letter telling her that he has a new father. He says he has to stay in Meridian this summer because he and his new father are going to build a fishing boat together. Scout is extremely disappointed. She has come to feel great affection for Dill and excitedly looks forward to his visits. Reiterating her feelings from Chapter Four, she again speaks in metaphorical terms about what summer means to her, and how the season is embodied by Dill: “…summer was Dill by the fishpool smoking string, Dill’s eyes alive with complicated plans to make Boo Radley emerge; summer was the swiftness with which Dill would reach up and kiss me when Jem was not looking, the longings we sometimes felt each other feel… without him, life was unbearable. I stayed miserable for two days.” Why is Dill not coming to Maycomb this summer? How does Scout feel about his absence?
The state legislature has been called into emergency session because of civil unrest due to the country’s economic troubles. The impact of the Great Depression is seen again in Scout’s explanation for Atticus’s being called away: “The Governor was eager to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state; there were sit-down strikes in Birmingham; bread lines in the cities grew longer, people in the country grew poorer.” Why must Atticus leave for two weeks? How is his absence related to the country’s economic troubles?
Calpurnia’s church is called First Purchase African M.E. Church. It is called First Purchase because it was built with the first earnings of newly freed slaves. What is the name of Calpurnia’s church, and what is the significance of the name?
It is a poor church located in a remote area of town. The interior is unpainted and undecorated, and the pews are simple pine benches. Unlike Scout’s church, it contains no piano, organ, hymn-books, or programs. However, Reverend Sykes’s sermon is very similar to the kind of sermon delivered in Scout’s church: “His sermon was a forthright denunciation of sin…he warned his flock against the evils of heady brews, gambling, and strange women… Again, as I had often met it in my own church, I was confronted with the Impurity of Women doctrine that seemed to preoccupy all clergymen.” One difference about the sermon is that Reverend Sykes speaks not in general terms but of individuals. When he asks the Lord to bless the sick and suffering, he gives specifics about who needs this blessing and why. When he speaks about lapses from grace, he points out those who have acted against the tenets of the church and describes their sins. One more difference occurs in the way the collection is taken up. Instead of passing around a plate, people go up to the pulpit one by one and put their donations into a coffee can. Briefly describe Calpurnia’s church. How does it differ from the church Jem and Scout usually attend? In what ways is it similar?
An angry and menacing woman named Lula insults Calpurnia for bringing Jem and Scoutto the church: “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here—they got their church, we got our’n.” This causes Jem and Scout to feel unwelcome at the church. The incident is resolved when the rest of the congregation gathers around Calpurnia and the children, protecting them from Lula: “They seemed to be drawing closer to us…When I looked down the pathway again, Lula was gone. In her place was a solid mass of colored people.” When they arrive at the church, Scout and Jem experience first-hand what it feels like to be the object of racial intolerance. Briefly describe the incident and how it is resolved.
When the Reverend counts the money in the coffee can, he finds that it is not enough. The church must collect ten dollars to give to Helen Robinson, Tom Robinson’s wife. Because Tom is in jail, and she has children to care for, she is in dire need of financial help. The Reverend’s authoritative action works: “Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars was collected. The door was opened, and the gust of warm air revived us.” What prompts Reverend Sykes to order that the doors be closed and that no one be allowed to leave for a period of time?
People do not want to hire Helen because of what Tom has been accused of. As Calpurnia states, “Folks aren’t anxious to—to have anything to do with any of his family. Why is Helen Robinson finding it difficult to get work lately?
Calpurnia reveals that Bob Ewell has accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. What more does the reader learn about Tom Robinson’s arrest? Of what has he been accused, and who has accused him?
One person speaks the line of a song so the rest of the chorus knows what to sing. It is done at Calpurnia’s church because many of the people in the church cannot read. This fact also explains the lack of hymnals and programs in the church. What is “linin’,” and why is it done?
They learn that Calpurnia is much older than she looks, that she is one of only four people in her church who can read, and that she taught her son, Zeebo, to read. They also discover that Calpurnia knew their grandfather and that she grew up at Finch’s Landing. In addition, the children are surprised to hear her speak in the dialect of the members of her church. While Jem thinks it is wrong to speak that way when one knows better, Scout is impressed: “That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages.” Both children now see Calpurnia as an individual in her own right, with a life and a history of her own. Previously, they had taken her for granted and had not stopped to think that she has a life outside of the Finch household. This is most evident in Scout’s request to Calpurnia at the end of the chapter. Scout has never been to Calpurnia’s house, and she asks if she can come out there sometime and see her. In this chapter, Scout and Jem seem to see Calpurnia in a new light. What do they learn about Calpurnia, and how does it change their views about her?

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