December 7

“We decided it would be best for you to have some feminine influence.”

After you have read chapters 12-13 of To Kill a Mockingbird, please respond on our blog:

  • What passage or passages strike you as interesting or singular and why?
  • What questions do you want to discuss with the class?
  • Why do you think these questions may generate interesting discussion?
  • Remember, a good discussion question does not have a single answer.  Good questions lead to interesting conversations.

Also remember to:

  • Annotate!  Annotate!  Annotate!  Use post-it notes to mark important passages and to write two or three discussion questions to direct our discussion tomorrow.  Remember!  Everyone must participate.
Mockingbird blog #5


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Posted December 7, 2018 by equinson in category To Kill a Mockingbird

33 thoughts on ““We decided it would be best for you to have some feminine influence.”

  1. Myles Ng

    “Jem was twelve. He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling, and he told me so many times to stop pestering him I consulted Atticus: “Reckon he’s got a tapeworm?” Atticus said no, Jem was growing. I must be patient with him and disturb him as little as possible.”

    This paragraph is important because it sets up a time frame. Like Great Expectations each of the parts seem to be divided up into age. This seems to be the teen years of Jem. This paragraph tells use Jem is becoming a teen and shows this with the moodiness. The people around Jem recognize this and tell Scout how to deal with him. This paragraph shows all this and is very important to the rest of this book.

    “Oh, Scout, it’s like reorganizing the tax systems of the counties and things. That
    kind of thing’s pretty dry to most men.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Oh, go on and leave me alone. I’m readin‘ the paper.”

    I find this interaction between Jem and Scout very different fro their previous. in school the stayed separate but at home they were friendlier. In this scene how ever it seems very cold and almost like a father daughter talk.

    Reply
    1. Hannah Pitkofsky

      I agree with the analysis of the quote. It is very interesting how much their relationship has changed over the course of about 1-2 years, making their entire relationship seem different than it used to be.

      Reply
  2. janem

    “‘It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not lady-like—in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.'” (p. 167)

    Scout didn’t really ever think too much about Calpurnia. She is Scout’s family’s cook and is an educated colored woman. She is strict to Scout, but only wants the best for her and for her to do well in the world once she is all grown up. In this chapter, Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to her church. There are many things Scout notices that are different between Calpurnia’s church and her church. The two things that strike Scout as odd is that there are no hymn books, and that Calpurnia doesn’t talk properly in her church. Calpurnia is able to explain to Scout that most people at her church aren’t educated, which is why there are no books for them to read. Second, she doesn’t talk properly because the uneducated people don’t know how to speak formally, and she needs to talk in a way that won’t be so foreign to them. The above quote shows that Calpurnia is very educated for being a woman of color at this time, and that she has a second life. Until this point, we have only seen Calpurnia as Scout sees her, as the family cook. But in this chapter, we see she is apart of a community, and acts differently in order to be understood.

    Reply
  3. Emily

    “Suppose you and Scout talked colored-folks’ talk in your house it’d be out of place, wouldn’t it? Now if I talked white-folks’ talk at church, and with my neighbors? They’d think I was puttin’ on airs’ to beat Moses.”(p.167)

    In chapter thirteen the readers are finally introduced to the dual life that Cal believes she has to live in order to belong in society. Although the readers have previously experienced the hardships of racism and discrimination throughout the novel before, this is the first time they get an in depth look through the eyes of Scout. In this chapter 13 Cal decides to take Scout and Jem to her church. When they arrived they are faced with a very different atmosphere. Even though Cal’s church has less money, they are more connected. In onec scene Scout describes the graveyard outside the church to have, “crumbling tombstones; newer ones were outlined with brightly colored glass and broken Coca-Cola bottles.” Even though this community does not have an abundant amount of money, they use what they have to help out each other. One great example of this would be when Reverend Skyes said, “You know what it’s for- Helen can’t leave those children while Tom’s in jail. If everyonen gives one more dime, we’ll have it-… no one leaves here till we have ten dollars.”(p. 162) After Scout and Jem go on this monumental outing there perception of the world is changed. For one, the learn about the double life that Can lives. Even though she is actually educated, she feels as if she has to hide that part of her from most of her life, once again showing the readers the effects of racism and discrimination.

    Reply
  4. Emma Garbowitz

    “I felt Calpurnia’s hand dig into my shoulder. “What you want, Lula?” she asked, in tones I had never heard her use. She spoke quietly, contemptuously.
    “I wants to know why you bringin‘ white chillun to nigger church.”
    “They’s my comp’ny,” said Calpurnia. Again I thought her voice strange: she was talking like the rest of them.”

    As soon as I read this specific quotes so many different thoughts ran through my mind because it was so incredibly important and supports a main idea that has been discussed a number of times. First of all, this quote took place right after Scout and Jem walked into church with Calpurnia. All of a sudden a woman named Lula came up to Cal and starts talking to her about why she brought Jem and Scout to their church. When Cal talked back to Lula, Scout was utterly in shock by what she had just heard. She has never heard Cal talk in such an odd manner. The tone was very unusual and so was her grammar (which was pretty great most of the time). Calpurnia was acting as if she was a completely different person.

    Whenever Scout and Jem see Cal everyday when she comes to take care of them and clean the house, she always talks normally, with correct grammar, and uses the tone that she always speaks in. However, when Jem and Scout go to church with Cal she talks the same way that all the other black people talk in their town. Depending on where she is and what she is doing, Cal speaks in a certain way. When she is around Scout’s family she talks properly, with great manners. However, when talking with the woman Lula, she is talking quite differently. Cal is talking differently depending upon the people she is with. It is like the people she is with affects the way that she should be acting and the choices she is making. It is like Cal is living a double life with two different personalities.

    I think Cal shouldn’t have to keep switching back and forth between two different personalities. Instead of going by the other people around her, she should be the person she wants to be and talk the way that she wants to. Whether she wants to use good or bad grammar, it shouldn’t be based upon who she is with, rather what she wants to use herself. She shouldn’t allow the people around her to affect her choices. Cal should do what she wants and should be free to make her own choices independently and without the influence of everyone else. The text states, “That’s why you don’t talk like the rest of ‘em,” said Jem.
    “The rest of who?”
    “Rest of the colored folks. Cal, but you talked like they did in church…”
    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.
    “Cal,” I asked, “why do you talk nigger- talk to the—to your folks when you know it’s not right?”
    “Well, in the first place I’m black—”
    “That doesn’t mean you hafta talk that way when you know better,” said Jem.
    This quote is clearly showing that Jem also agrees Cal should talk better because she knows how to. She shouldn’t have to talk differently because she is with a different group of people. Furthermore, if Cal learned to talk so properly in the first place, why wouldn’t she use correct speech anyway?In conclusion, I found this specific scene very significant because it taught both the reader and Cal a great lesson.

    Reply
  5. MadiR

    I felt his hand on the back of my head. “Don’t you worry about anything,” he said. “It’s not time to worry.”(p.178)

    This quote stroke me as interesting because it keeps reoccurring throughout the novel. Atticus frequently shares this line with Scout to calm her down. This quote reminds the reader of how Atticus tries to protect Scout and Jem from the outside world. This quote is somewhat like the the quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”, which is said in chapter one. The quotes compare Atticus with the President as an encouraging moral force. Both Atticus and the President can indicate what an actual threat is.

    Reply
  6. Hannah Pitkofsky

    “Jem was twelve. He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling, and he told me so many times to stop pestering him I consulted Atticus: “Reckon he’s got a tapeworm?” Atticus said no, Jem was growing. I must be patient with him and disturb him as little as possible.

    This paragraph is the beginning of part 2 and it shows a drastic change as the characters grow up. Jem is now 12 years old and now he is becoming closer and closer to the modern-day teenager, however, Scout is still only 8 years old and doesn’t understand why Jem is acting this way. This quote shows the real-life connection between the stories we read and the lives that we live in. Jem and Scout’s relationship, up until this point, has been pretty parallel to that of the modern-day brother and sister, minus the time period difference. Whenever the older sibling begins to become more independent, the younger sibling(s) might feel left behind in the cloud of dust that the older sibling left behind. Scout and Jem are two very dynamic characters and this time and age difference is solidifying that dynamic about the novel which continues to make this novel one of the greats.

    Reply
  7. Sunna

    “Jem was twelve. He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling, and he told me so many times to stop pestering him I consulted Atticus: “Reckon he’s got a tapeworm?” Atticus said no, Jem was growing. I must be patient with him and disturb him as little as possible.”

    I loved this paragraph because it reminded me about who the narrator was. The fact that a child is telling the story of such a serious issue, racism and bigotry, can be difficult to understand at times. However, when Scout talked about Jem going through his teenage phase, it reminded me that Scout and Jem, at the end of the day, are kids. They may be facing hate from others, but they are still young and inexperienced. This paragraph also added some humor to this story, and it really struck my attention.

    Reply
  8. stephaniec

    “Get more like Cousin Joshua every day, don’t I? Do you think I’ll end up costing the family five hundred dollars?”
    “I know now what he was trying to do, but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to do that kind of work”(p. 179)

    One day, Jem mentioned Cousin Joshua who had gone crazy and left a dent in the family name. Aunt Alexandra, who had just recently moved in, was concerned about the principles Atticus was raising his children on. She then expressed her concerns to Atticus. As a result, Atticus talked to Scout and Jem about what it means to be a part of the Finch family. At an instant, Scout realized the words Atticus was saying were not coming from his mouth, but from Aunt Alexandra’s. Scout, concerned by her father’s behavior, cried to Atticus. Atticus attempted to comfort her by saying, “Get more like Cousin Joshua every day, don’t I? Do you think I’ll end up costing the family five hundred dollars?”. Even though Scout knew her father had the right intentions in trying to comfort her, she knew that reassuring and comforting children was a mother’s job. This scene interested me because it made me think about the mother figures in Scout and Jem’s life. Even though Aunt Alexandra is part of their family, she holds no influence or power over Scout. However, Calpurina, their housemaid, became the closest thing Scout has to a mother. She helps Scout whenever she can and disciplines her whenever she needs to be disciplined.

    Reply
    1. Zoe

      I agree that Aunt Alexandra holds no importance in Scout’s eyes but I also think that she is trying to replace the mother figure Scout never had. In this way, when she tries to tell Atticus how to raise them, she is forcing her ideas upon the kids and must believe that is a mother’s job. That is especially why Scout hates her influence as if she doesn’t want a replacement. Good job on the analysis!

      Reply
  9. Zoe

    “It’s not lady-like—in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.” (pg. 167)

    This paragraph seemed especially important to me because it was something very much different than the gender stereotypes directed at Scout that Jem had talked about. Instead of the usual, “you’re turning too much into a girl,” Aunt Alexandra is sort of telling Scout to embrace her feminity, yet it is also telling her to think that she is not as smart or strong as men and purposely hide away her talents so men don’t feel so stupid around her. The idea of addressing these problems in a book occurs a lot in To Kill A Mockingbird when she talks about racism and now sort of addressing sexism. These sort of paragraphs that the author writes makes me believe that Scout could change drastically in the second half because of what they say to her. She could embrace herself and defy everyone to show she is just as powerful as any other man in the world or she could listen to them and hide everything that she is to please her aunt and her brother. When people constantly tell her to be what she’s not and tell her every one of her mistakes, it will eventually change her for the worst or, hopefully, for the better.

    Reply
    1. Mikayla Friedman

      I agree with your analysis of Scout’s future, and I really hope she defies the gender stereotypes and proves that women can do anything they set their mind to.

      Reply
  10. Laila Sayegh

    “by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl”

    I found this quote to be so important because it is the first time in the book that being a girl is addressed in a positive light. Before now, Jem would just use the word girl to tease Scout, basically calling her weak. This quote shows Calpurnia’s affect on Scout and how she is like the female role model Scout never had. I believe that as Scout continues to come to these realizations she will be more independent, meaning she won’t mind what Jem has to say and what anyone else has to say in general. It will most likely lead to character development based on how Scout feels about herself and other people.

    Reply
    1. trinityt

      I agreed with you. As Scout spends more time with Calpurnia, she begins to come to see the realization that being a girl isn’t bad. I believe that as times goes on, Scout will start to be more independent and embrace herself more.

      Reply
  11. angelicac1

    “It’s not lady-like—in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.” (pg. 167)

    Gender stereotypes have been a huge issue throughout Scout’s life because she’s always being told to follow the expectations and actions of being a girl. When Aunt Alexandra told Scout to accept and embrace her own sex, I feel as if Scout’s life is about to take on a whole different journey of embracing who she is. This journey would definitely take this novel on an entirely different route that would make the story much more interesting.

    Reply
  12. Kate Ma.

    “How’d you like for her to come live with us?”
    I said I would like it very much,which was a lie, but one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can’t do anything about them.”

    This paragraph intrigued me because it’s relative in everyone’s life. Mostly everyone has some family member or friend that always judged them and tries to change them and in Scout’s case, it’s Aunt Alexandra. Also, when someone really doesn’t like something or someone, they usually just lie to not hurt their feelings or get in trouble. Alexandra decided to move in with Scout, Jem and Atticus to enforce some Finch morals in them, as she believed Atticus was not doing a justice for them. Throughout these chapters, we see more into Alexandra and her personality. I can see why Scout doesn’t like when she’s around because all she does is judge and scold Scout for acting too “boyish” when all she’s doing is being a kid. I think we can all relate to Scout’s feelings towards Aunt Alexandra as we all have that person in our lives who we can’t stand yet we act fine around them because we have to.

    Reply
  13. trinityt

    “She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.” (p.154).

    I found this passage significant because from the beginning until now, the word “girl” was use as more of an insult, by saying that you’re a girl, that means that you’re weak, which is not true. However, now, the word “girl” is use as a positive way. As Jem starts to become a teenager, he begins to do his own thing, and so Scout spends more time with Calpurnia when Jem does his own things. As Scout spends more time with Calpurnia, she’s starting to see that being a girl isn’t so bad, unlike before when she takes being called a girl an insult. I believe that as times goes by, Scout will become more independent and will embrace herself more as she comes to see these realizations.

    Reply
  14. Mikayla Friedman

    “‘Cal,’ I asked, ‘why do you talk nigger-talk to the— to your folks when you know it’s not right?’
    ‘Well, in the first place I’m black—’
    ‘That doesn’t mean you hafta talk that way when you know better,’ said Jem.
    Calpurnia tilted her hat and scratched her head, then pressed her hat down carefully over her ears.” (p. 167)

    This passage is significant because of the lesson being taught by Jem, which makes it even more important because he is just a child. In this scene, Jem and Scout realize Cal talks differently when she is with them at their house then when she is at church. They come to the conclusion that she lives under two different identities, one where she is the cook for a white family, and one where she is among other African Americans, in church or in day to day life. Jem asks Cal why she talks “nigger-talk” when she knows it is incorrect. He wants to know why Cal uses incorrect grammar when she knows better. Cal says she is black, but Jem counters her response by saying “‘That doesn’t mean you hafta talk that way when you know better,'” (p. 167) I find this sentence particularly interesting. Jem is saying that just because Cal is African American doesn’t mean she has to behave incorrectly in terms of the way she speaks, and I agree. I noticed that after Jem says this, Cal seems at a loss for words, almost as if she agrees with Jem. Jem’s lesson can be applied to everyday life: if you know that right way to do something, or the right way to act, you should do it regardless of what others might think of you. One might say Cal was only using speaking incorrectly to protect her reputation among her friends, but I think it is more important to do what is right by you than do to what is right by others. I suspect that Jem learned this lesson from his father, Atticus, who is always teaching his children important lessons. In the future, I hope Jem, Scout, and Cal do what is right even at the risk of being judged.

    Reply
  15. Brishti Sarkar

    Atticus answered both questions in the affirmative. “How’d you like for her to come live with us?”
    I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can’t do anything about them. (p. 171)

    While the main purpose of the novel is to tell a story, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is also a book about morals. Scout starts as a young, naive kid at the beginning of the novel, but through the help of wiser figures in her life such as Atticus and Calpurnia, she learns differences between “right” behaviors and “wrong” behaviors. Upon the arrival of Aunt Alexandra, Scout is clearly disheartened by the news. As she recalls, Aunt Alexandra thought of Scout as “dull in the extreme,” (p. 170). Aunt Alexandra is shown to view her negatively, and makes remarks about how unladylike she is. Because the novel teaches us morals, it is odd that Scout would justify lying. Lying is often portrayed to be negative, and parents teach their children to always tell the truth. However, Scout’s reasoning is valid. Sometimes, parents make decisions that children do not approve of, and the children speak out about it. Then, they accuse the children of being difficult. Harper Lee uses this idea to show an imbalance between parents and their children. She shows how although parents want their children to be honest, they are also hypocritical when they do not like what they hear from their children, even when it is the honest truth. This causes children to realize that they must lie in order to satisfy their parental figures, thus giving them what they want to hear.

    Reply
  16. Maddie

    “‘We were ‘specially glad to have you all here,’ said Reverend Sykes. ‘This church has no better friend than your daddy.'”

    In this passage, Scout and Jem are exposed to a whole new way of life. They go with Calpurnia to her church, and see many new people and things that they are not used to. When they first arrive at the church, they meet a woman who is not happy to see them. Experiencing this type of treatment from a colored person in their time was surprising to them. They felt very uncomfortable when this happened and suggested to Calpurnia that they should go home, because they did not belong. After Calpurnia clears everything up with the woman, the proceed into church.

    When they enter the church, they see many things that they are not used to. First of all, there are logs instead of pews. Second, there are no hymn books. This is especially confusing to Scout, who has no clue how they will sing the hymns with no hymn books. Also, as the church comes to an end, Reverend Sykes will not let anyone leave until they have collected ten dollars to give to Tom Robinson’s wife. The priest gets aggressive, pressuring everyone to give more coins. These things all seem strange and new to Jem and Scout, who have never experienced anything like it at their church.

    When Jem and Scout leave the church, they talk to Reverend Sykes. He tells them in the above quote that the colored people admire their father. They realize that to them, Atticus is a hero. This makes them realize how doing the right thing can make people feel, whether most people approve of it or not.

    Reply
  17. johnh1

    “‘Jem’s growing up now and you are too,’ she said to me. ‘We decided that it
    would be best for you to have some feminine influence. It won’t be many years,
    Jean Louise, before you become interested in clothes and boys—’
    I could have made several answers to this: Cal’s a girl, it would be many years
    before I would be interested in boys, I would never be interested in clothes… but
    I kept quiet.”
    The reason I chose this section was because it shows that Aunt Alexandra is very close minded. It is a contrast to Scout and her family. Alexandra is much more believing in the fact that a “woman’s place” isn’t what Scout does. I wonder why this is. Later on, we see that Atticus loves Scout too much to think she should be more ladylike. I wonder what the difference between Atticus and Alexandra is. Also, I wonder why Scout didn’t end up so “ladylike” in this time period. I think it could be from Cal. Cal, being the main female role model in life and a hard worker, gave Scout her less weak personality.

    Reply
    1. Sophie

      I like your analysis about how Scouts “boyish” personality could have been influenced from Cal. Cal is not the ideal figure of a women back in those days, so it would make sense for Scout to sort of take after her because she has no white “lady” figure to look up to.

      Reply
  18. Hannah M.

    “‘It’s time you started bein‘ a girl and acting right!’ I burst into tears and fled to Calpurnia,” (pg.153). This passage struck me as interesting because it shows the bond between Scout and Calpurnia and reveals more about Calpurnia and where she stands in this novel. Calpurnia works for the Finch family, but its more than just work to her and others like Scout and Jem. We all know that Scout and Jem’s mother passed away when they were young so they grew up with only a father. When Calpurnia came she was like a mother to them. If Scout or Jem needed a shoulder to cry on they would rush to Calpurnia and let their feelings out. Calpurnia is a very caring person and continues to teach Scout and Jem important life lessons like a mother should. A mother like figure is clearly shown in Calpurnia towards Scout and Jem.

    Reply
  19. Casey

    “Suppose you and Scout talked colored-folks’ talk in your house it’d be out of place, wouldn’t it? Now if I talked white-folks’ talk at church, and with my neighbors? They’d think I was puttin’ on airs’ to beat Moses.”(p.167)

    This paragraph stood out to me because it shows even more about the time period in which this storyline takes place. This scene takes place when Scout and Jem are leaving Calpurnia’s church. The two children where very confused when Calpurnia started speaking what could almost be considered another language to Scout and Jem. They referred to it as ‘colored-folks talk’. They explained that Calpurnia knew better than to talk like that. Calpurnia explains that each ‘language’ has a specific place where it whole be spoken. This shows how prominent segregation was when this story takes place. Calpurnia feels like she he’s to speak ‘white-folks talk’ around the Finches and ‘colored-folks talk’ around her friends and family.

    Reply
  20. Sophie

    “’You all know what it’s for—Helen can’t leave those children to work while Tom’s in jail. If everybody gives one more dime, we’ll have it—’ Reverend Sykes waved his hand and called to someone in the back of the church. ‘Alec, shut the doors. Nobody leaves here till we have ten dollars’… Slowly, painfully, the ten dollars was collected” (p. 162)

    Throughout chapter 12, Scout and Jem got the opportunity to attend Calpurnia’s church for colored people. Her church was truly amazing because of the fact that they had so little money, yet so much love. It really gave Scout and Jem a new and different way of looking at life. In the event where the reverend would not dismiss the townsfolk until 10 dollars were collected was a clear example of the benevolence of the people. Tom Robinson was an African American, and since the fellow African Americans were so loving and protective of his accusation, they felt a sense of responsibility to look after and help Tom’s family as much as possible. The ten dollars were collected to help his wife with finances so that the kids would not have to work. The church experience overall was such a good getaway for the children. Leaving your home and everything you’re used to to be exposed to a world of love, kindness, and respect is important for Scout to experience. I hope that it positively impacts Scouts personality and contributes to the story line in a beneficial way.

    Reply
  21. josepha4

    “The idea that she had a separate existence outside our house hold was a novel one to say nothing of her having command of two languages”(pg 167)
    This quote from the novel is significant because it shines a light on stereotyping. When Scout and Jem accompany Cal to her church they soon realize she is acting in an unfamiliar way. Her grammar and attitude switch gears. When Jem questions Cal’s unfamiliar behavior it seems that she cannot come up with a valid reason for doing so. She states nobody likes a show off but it still isn’t a good explanation for doing so. In fact, her separating herself even more from the whites than they already are only pulls them farther away from equality. If two groups can’t speak the same language how will they communicate. Again, the speaking barrier between white and black people should be broken not be solidified.

    Reply
  22. maxwellw

    “With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.”(pg.132.)

    Dill’s absence from Maycomb coincides appropriately with the continued encroachment of the adult world upon Scout’s childhood, as Dill has represented the perspective of children throughout the novel. Scout’s journey to Calpurnia’s church is the reader’s first glimpse of the black community in Maycomb, which is portrayed in an overwhelmingly positive light. An air of desperate poverty hangs over the church—the building is unpainted, they cannot afford hymnals, and the congregation is illiterate—yet the adversity seems to bring the people closer together and creates a strong sense of community.

    Reply

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