To Kill A Mockingbird

Quotes

Meaning

"'Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,' Atticus said."
                                          ~Atticus (101)
                            
Atticus says this line when he takes the Tom Robinson case and everyone thinks he's crazy for defending a black man. He knows he has no chance at winning in this racist small town. Even though he knows he's not going to win, it reminded me that we all should fight for justice whether we know the final verdict or not.
"This case, Tom Robinson's case, is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience- Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man."
                                            ~Atticus ( 139)
This quote is Atticus telling Scout to keep her temper under control in school and that she'll have to endour some difficult things because Atticus is taking Tom Robinson's case. If Atticus didn't take this case, he would be saying that he's scared of what everyone thinks of him and not standing up for an innocent man.
"I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but sometimes one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them."
                                            ~Scout (171)
This quote is important because it means Scout is growing up. It also tells us how much she doesn't want her Aunt to live with her. She tells a lie to please her father, Atticus, and to not create tension in the household.
"The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb County, have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption- the evil assumption- that all Negros lie, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber."
                                            ~Atticus ( 273)
Atticus, in this quote, is basically telling the jury that, whether Tom Robinson raped Mayella Ewell or not, they would convict him guilty just because he's black. Bob Ewell and Mayella Ewell are both white and it's their word verses his. In this community, white people think the same about all black people- they are lesser than them in every way.
"How could they do it, how could they?"
"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it again tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it- seems that only children weep. Good night."
                                            ~Jem, Atticus (285)
This quote is after the trial and it is Jem asking Atticus how they could be so bias against Tom Robinson even though it's a jury in a court of law. Atticus explains that it's been like this since the beginning of time. The only people that are affected by this kind of racism are children because of their innocent minds and spirits.
"If you had been on that jury , son, and eleven other boys like you, Tom would be a free man," said Atticus. "So far nothing in your life has interfered with your reasoning process. Those are twelve reasonable men in everyday life, Tom's jury, but you saw something come between them and reasoning. You saw the same thing that night in front of the jail. When that crew went away, they didn't go as reasonable men, they went because we were there. There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads- they couldn't be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. they're ugly, but those are the facts of life."
                                            ~Atticus (295)
This quote explains the importance of innocent minds in our society. Atticus explains how courts would be if children ran them. Tom Robinson would be innocent because any mind unaffected by race or money would plainly see that he wasn't guilty.
"There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly,fanned gently, and drank cool water."
                                            ~Scout (313)
This quote was very funny to me. Scout, up until now, has never had a formal mother-type to introduce her into the feminine world of being a woman. She has always been a tomboy in overalls. Since Aunt Alexandra has moved in, she has had regular tea parties with ladies and dresses, something Scout has never experienced. She must soon become a lady.
"Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."
                                            ~Mr. Underwood (323)
This quote reminded me how unfair and bias the jury is in this small town. They try and act like they're being fair but everyone knows Tom doesn't have a chance.
"Jem was becoming almost as good as Atticus at making you feel right when things went wrong."
                                            ~Scout (347)
This quote reminds me of my brother and how he is the only son in the family. He is always trying to live up to my dad's expectations and one day he will be the man of his home just like Jem. He's growing up to be exactly like his father.
"She brought me something to put on, and had I thought about it then, I would have never let her forget it: in her distraction, Aunty brought me my overalls. "Put these on, darling," she said, handing me the garments she most despised."
                                           ~Scout (354)
This quote reminded me that in disasters like Jem and Scout went through, the little things that were such a big deal, arn't a big deal anymore. Also, you can't change someone if they don't want to change. Scout is a tomboy at heart and, sooner or later, her Aunt must except that.
"Jem and Scout know what happened. If they hear of me saying downtown something different happened- Heck, I wouldn't have them any more. I can't live one way in town and another way in my home."
                                           ~Atticus (367)
This reminds me of the heavy responsibility of parents in and out of their homes. Especially in a small town where everything and anything spreads like wildfire, parents who want to make a good impression on their children, must watch what they do, say, and stand for.
"Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into thte street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog. Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him."
                                           ~Scout (374)
This quote changed my perspective on Boo. At first he was a lonely, incarcerated person who was thought of as a social outcast. It later changed to a sense that Boo had watched these kids so closely over the years that, even though they never talked, he would defend them to no end because they were like family.
"'An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he look like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things... Atticus, he was real nice...'
    His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. 
    "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."
                                           ~Scout, Atticus (376)
This quote was very sutble at the end of the book. I had to re-read it to understand why they put it in at the ending. Scout was really talking about how everyone thought Boo was a troublemaker and a haunted spirit. At the end Scout finally realized that he was just a lonely, shy soul and that none of the nasty rumors about him were true.
Photo used under Creative Commons from kevinzim