The Finches’ black cook California is a stern disciplinarian and the children’s bridge between the white world and her own black community. She also teaches (through her actions and Tactics’ respect) the Pinch children that skin color does not matter. Scout witness the difference between black and petite in Chapter 16 when Tactics and Aunt Alexandra disagree about speaking openly in front of the “colored” help. California teaches Scout many of the same lessons. Since Tactics sees California as a member Of the family, she is allowed to freely scold and structure Scout if need be.
Cal teaches Scout about treating people with respect and taking time to understand Others. Scout watched Cal and even sees that being a girl isn’t such a bad thing. Cal, despite being black and the Finch’s cook, becomes a kind of mother to Scout in many ways. First, Cal acts as mother figure for Scout. For example, after Cal gets after Scout for how she treats Walter Cunningham early in the novel, Scout is angry at her. However, when she returns from school Cal is nice to her and cooks ere some crackling bread, In this way she is mothering Scout and disciplining her at the same time.
Second, she acts as a counterpoint to Aunt Alexandra. In the previous example, Cal scolds Scout for embarrassing Walter at lunch. Cal emphasizes to Scout that while she might be to a higher social class than Walter, she still must respect his wishes, It is no coincidence that later in the book, Alexandra makes an entirely different point She tells Scout that she is too good to socialize with Walter; Pinches don’t socialize with white trash, Because of Calls influence, Scout is able to see both sides of the issue and come to her own conclusion.
Cal also serves to show Scout a different side of Macomb society. Look at all that Scout and Gem learn when Cal takes them to her black church. She realizes that Cal exists in two different words – a black world at home and a white one with Scout’s family. This parallels nicely how Scout is caught between worlds – becoming a young woman and being a tom boy, becoming an adult and still relishing her childhood, being exposed to some of the negative experiences n Macomb While still being innocent.
California knows the importance of language and the type of language she needs for different audiences. To use a black dialect or “talk black” to a white family would be taken as a sign that California doesn’t know “proper English” She would be judged as uneducated. However, with a black audience, speaking “white” would make her seem conceited and “uppity”. Thus, California employs the dialect that will gain her the most respect from each person to whom she speaks. California is the woman who does the household duties of cooking, cleaning, joking after and loving the children.
She is no pushover, and she certainly has her opinions. However, as a black lady in this time period, she normally keeps them to herself unless asked point-blank. She is honest with the children, and she helps Scout understand and adjust to her alienation when Gem begins to find his cВ»van way from “boy” to “man”. She takes her job seriously and it is without a doubt that she loves the Finch children and their father since they are fair- minded and honorable people.