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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird


by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 12 Quotes

How we cite the quotes:

Lula stopped, but she said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here—they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?"

… When I looked down the pathway again, Lula was gone. In her place was a solid mass of colored people.

One of them stepped from the crowd. It was Zeebo, the garbage collector. "Mister Jem," he said, "we're mighty glad to have you all here. Don't pay no 'tention to Lula, she's contentious because Reverend Sykes threatened to church her. She's a troublemaker from way back, got fancy ideas an' haughty ways—we're mighty glad to have you all." (12.48-52)

This is the first time Scout and Jem experience racism first-hand. They feel like they're the objects of someone else's racism, which sure put them in a unique position.

"It's right hard to say," she said. "Suppose you and Scout talked colored-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 neighbors? They'd think I was puttin' on airs to beat Moses."

"But Cal, you know better," I said.

"It's not necessary to tell all you know. It's not ladylike—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." (12.138-144)

Cal doesn't get the privilege of being the same person no matter where she is, because she has to live a double life to fit in. Sometimes, conformity to what everyone else is doing makes more sense. Calpurnia and Atticus offer different models to Jem and Scout of how to deal with a world that can't deal with who people really are. (Extra credit: Check out W.E.B. DuBois's "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" in the "Best of the Web" section for a famous discussion of doubleness and African-American identity.)

[Calpurnia] 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. (12.8)

Until now, being a girl has been what happens when Scout fails to live up to Jem's standards of what a person should be. Watching Calpurnia, Scout realizes that being a girl actually involves having positive traits instead of lacking them.

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