To Kill a Mockingbird

The Finches’ black cook. Atticus has employed her for years, and following the death of his wife, Calpurnia essentially raises Scout and Jem. Scout initially sees Calpurnia as tyrannical and horrible, but as she begins to grow, she comes to understand that Calpurnia truly does love and care for her. Calpurnia is unique in Maycomb, as she’s one of the few black residents who’s literate—she taught Scout to write in cursive and taught her son, Zeebo, to read. She’s fanatical about policing Scout’s manners, which irks Scout to no end since she believes that Calpurnia doesn’t correct Jem nearly as much. When Scout and Jem attend the local black church with Calpurnia and hear her speaking differently to the black parishioners there, they realize that Calpurnia leads something of a double life—she speaks one way at home and speaks very differently when she’s at the Finches’ house. This increases Scout’s respect for Calpurnia, and she becomes even more supportive of Calpurnia when Aunt Alexandra arrives and makes numerous bids for Atticus to fire Calpurnia. Atticus, however, insists that Calpurnia is like family and that he’ll never fire her.

Calpurnia Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird

The To Kill a Mockingbird quotes below are all either spoken by Calpurnia or refer to Calpurnia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Chapter 3 Quotes

“There's some folks who don't eat like us," she whispered fiercely, "but you ain't called on to contradict 'em at the table when they don't. That boy's yo' comp'ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear?”

“He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham—“

“Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty!”

Related Characters: Jean Louise Finch (Scout) (speaker), Calpurnia (speaker), Walter Cunningham
Page Number: 27
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Chapter 12 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.”

Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
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Calpurnia Character Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the character Calpurnia appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Scout and Jem love Atticus, but their cook, Calpurnia, is a mystery. Since Scout’s mother died when Scout was two, Calpurnia raises Scout and... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...that these days, Boo lives chained to his bed. Mr. Radley died soon after and Calpurnia whispered that he was mean, which surprised Jem and Scout—she never speaks ill of white... (full context)
Chapter 2
Growing Up Theme Icon
...in cursive, which she isn’t supposed to learn until the third grade. Scout explains that Calpurnia taught her cursive on rainy days to keep Scout out of her hair. (full context)
Chapter 3
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...At the table, Atticus and Walter discuss farming. Walter asks if there’s any syrup and Calpurnia brings him the pitcher. He pours it over his plate until Scout asks what he’s... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
After lunch, Scout tells Atticus that Calpurnia is horrible and asks him to fire her. Atticus stonily refuses, so Scout concentrates on... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...house. She decides to run away and answers Atticus’s questions about school with one-word answers. Calpurnia is oddly kind to Scout and insists she missed Scout and Jem, so Scout decides... (full context)
Chapter 4
Prejudice Theme Icon
...in to get the tire and insults Scout for acting too much like a girl. Calpurnia calls them in for lemonade and as they sit on the porch, Jem announces expansively... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...and for once Scout gets a good part when she plays the judge. Jem steals Calpurnia’s scissors daily so he can mime stabbing Dill in the leg, and the children stand... (full context)
Chapter 8
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...know and cautions his children that there might not be enough snow to do so. Calpurnia arrives and Jem and Scout race outside. Jem scolds Scout for eating the soggy snow... (full context)
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
By afternoon, the snow stops, and it freezes. Calpurnia declines Atticus’s offer to stay the night and Scout goes to sleep cold. She wakes... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Scout and Jem sleep until noon, when Calpurnia wakes them and sends them to clean up the yard. They find Miss Maudie’s hat... (full context)
Chapter 10
Courage Theme Icon
...insults Atticus, and tells Scout to not point her gun at people. Annoyed, Scout asks Calpurnia what Atticus can do. Calpurnia insists that Atticus can do lots of things but can’t... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...spots old Tim Johnson, a beloved local hound dog. He drags Scout home and asks Calpurnia to come look at Tim. Jem mimes how Tim is moving—like his right legs are... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Atticus and Mr. Heck Tate, the sheriff, arrive in the car. Calpurnia explains that Tim is just twitching, not running, so they decide to wait for him... (full context)
Chapter 12
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...moody and starts telling Scout what to do, including to act like a proper girl. Calpurnia assures Scout that Jem is just growing up and invites Scout to join her in... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Scout heads for the kitchen. Calpurnia asks what to do about church this week. Scout points out that Atticus left collection... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Reverend Sykes leads Calpurnia, Scout, and Jem to the front pew. Calpurnia gives dimes to Scout and Jem, telling... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...work, which seems odd to Scout. Reverend Sykes says that Helen can’t find work as Calpurnia leads her away. Scout peppers Calpurnia with questions and learns that Tom is in jail... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Jem comments that this is why Calpurnia doesn’t talk like the other black people, and Scout realizes that she’s never thought of... (full context)
Chapter 13
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Aunt Alexandra tells Calpurnia to take her suitcase upstairs. Jem takes it and Aunt Alexandra tells Scout that she... (full context)
Chapter 14
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...and when he tells her, she ends up telling him all about her trip to Calpurnia’s church. Aunt Alexandra is shocked that Scout and Jem went to Calpurnia’s church. Scout asks... (full context)
Chapter 16
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...that Mr. Underwood is a known racist; he’s surprised that Mr. Underwood was protecting him. Calpurnia serves Aunt Alexandra coffee and agrees to give Scout a tablespoon of coffee in milk.... (full context)
Chapter 20
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...to the right choice. He implores the jury to believe Tom. Dill points. Scout sees Calpurnia heading for Atticus. (full context)
Chapter 21
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Calpurnia passes Atticus a note. Atticus asks Judge Taylor to go, since his children are missing,... (full context)
Chapter 22
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...cry about this. In the morning, Atticus assures Jem that there will be an appeal. Calpurnia shows Atticus the huge amount of food people left on the porch to thank him.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...Sunday late in August, Jem and Dill swim naked at Barker’s Eddy, leaving Scout with Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle. She sits in the kitchen and listens to Mrs. Grace... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
...that if she were the Governor of Alabama, she’d let Tom go. She remembers hearing Calpurnia talking the other day about how Tom gave up hope when he went to jail,... (full context)
Chapter 25
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...waved to a car for a ride home. It turned out to be Atticus and Calpurnia, and Atticus grudgingly allowed them to come to the Robinson cabin and told them what... (full context)