calpurnia quotes

20 Important Calpurnia Quotes: The Wise Words of a Housekeeper

Although there aren’t many of them, these Calpurnia quotes are definitely worth reading, and will probably inspire you to grab your copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and read it once again.

But for those of you who haven’t read it, in Harper Lee’s highly successful novel published in 1960, one of the most memorable characters is the family housekeeper Calpurnia. Raised near Finch’s Landing, Calpurnia is well-acquainted with the Finch family, and soon becomes a cherished member of the household.

Throughout the novel, Calpurnia is described as a stern yet nurturing woman. Once Atticus Finch’s wife passes away, she evolves into a sort of mother figure to Jem and Scout. She helps bring them up, disciplines and teaches them right from wrong, and also comforts them when they’re feeling sad.

Ultimately, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a must-read, but if you need more persuasion, check out these quotes.

Calpurnia Quotes That Will Give You a New Appreciation for Her Character

Perceptive Calpurnia Quotes You’ll Love to Read

#1. “It is 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.” ― Calpurnia

#2. “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.” ― Calpurnia

#3. “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?” ― Calpurnia

#4. “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! Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ’em—if you can’t act fit to eat at the table you can just sit here and eat in the kitchen!” ― Calpurnia

#5. “There goes the meanest man ever God blew breath into.” ― Calpurnia

Calpurnia Quotes by the Finch Family

#6. “She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll simply have to accept things the way they are…Besides, I don’t think the children’ve suffered one bit from her having brought them up. If anything, she’s been harder on them in some ways than a mother would have been… she’s never let them get away with anything, she’s never indulged them the way most colored nurses do. She tried to bring them up according to her lights, and Cal’s lights are pretty good—and another thing, the children love her.” ― Atticus Finch

#7. “She was all angles and bones; she was nearsighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard. She was always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn’t behave as well as Jem when she knew he was older, and calling me home when I wasn’t ready to come. Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side. She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence as long as I could remember.” ― Scout Finch

#8. “Calpurnia bent down and kissed me. I ran along, wondering what had come over her. She had wanted to make up with me, that was it. She had always been too hard on me, she had at last seen the error of her fractious ways, she was sorry and too stubborn to say so.” ― Scout Finch

#9. “‘I’ve no intention of getting rid of her, now or ever. We couldn’t operate a single day without Cal, have you ever thought of that? You think about how much Cal does for you, and you mind her, you hear?’” ― Atticus Finch

Calpurnia Quotes for a Better Insight Into Her Character

#10. “Calpurnia was to blame for this. It kept me from driving her crazy on rainy days, I guess. She would set me a writing task by scrawling the alphabet firmly across the top of a tablet, then copying out a chapter of the Bible beneath. If I reproduced her penmanship satisfactorily, she rewarded me with an open-faced sandwich of bread and butter and sugar.” ― Scout Finch

#11. “It was not often that she made crackling bread, she said she never had time, but with both of us at school, today had been an easy one for her. She knew I loved crackling bread.” ― Scout Finch

#12. “In Calpurnia’s teaching, there was no sentimentality: I seldom pleased her and she seldom rewarded me.” ― Scout Finch

#13. “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.” ― Scout Finch

#14. “’Cal,’ I asked, ‘why do you talk n*****-talk to the—to your folks when you know it’s not right?’” ― Scout Finch

#15. “Calpurnia’s tyranny, unfairness, and meddling in my business had faded to gentle grumblings of general disapproval. On my part, I went to much trouble, sometimes, not to provoke her.” ― Scout Finch

#16. “Lemonade in the middle of the morning was a summertime ritual. Calpurnia set a pitcher and three glasses on the porch, then went about her business. Being out of Jem’s good graces did not worry me especially. Lemonade would restore his good humor.” ― Scout Finch

Sweet Calpurnia Quotes That Show Her Nurturing Nature

#17. “I missed you today. The house got so lonesome ‘long about two o’clock I had to turn on the radio.” ― Calpurnia

#18. “I wonder how much of the day I spend just callin’ after you. Well, it’s enough time to make a pan of cracklin‘ bread, I reckon. You run along now and let me get supper on the table.” ― Calpurnia

#19. “Shut your eyes and open your mouth and I’ll give you a surprise.” ― Calpurnia

#20. “I don’t want anybody sayin‘ I don’t look after my children. Mister Jem, you absolutely can’t wear that tie with that suit. It’s green.” ― Calpurnia

The Conclusion

Overall, Calpurnia is a significant character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” not only because she plays an important role when it comes to raising Jem and Scout but also because of what she symbolizes. Calpurnia is a perfect example of an African American woman being treated with the respect she deserves.

I hope you enjoyed reading these Calpurnia quotes as much as I did, and that they’ve made you appreciate this strong female character more.

Image source: Calpurnia by Jessica Reed 

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