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What are some good quotes regarding prejudice, wisdom, and innocence in To Kill a...

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i-m-l8 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2011 at 9:49 AM via web

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What are some good quotes regarding prejudice, wisdom, and innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Do you have any good quotes with Boo, Tom, Dolphus and Aunt Alexandra talking about prejudice and racism? Atticus  talking about his knowledge and words of wisdom (important quotes)? Any quotes with Scout and Jem talking about innocence to experience or growing up? Or someone talking to them about maturing?

PLEASE INCLUDE CHAPTER AND PAGE NUMBER OF QUOTE! :)

 

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 18, 2011 at 5:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Harper Lee's characters are realistic types of who have populated many a small, sleepy town in the South.  There is the town gossip, a few cranky old women or men, a kindly older woman, and, of course, those that live on the fringes of society. Then, too, there is a section where most of the white people live and one where many of the black people dwell.  In To Kill a Mockingbird,  Boo Radley is the mysterious recluse who lives near Scout and Jem.  When Scout asks Miss Maudie about him, Miss Maudie tells Scout,

"...that is a sad house....He [Boo] always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did.  (5) Prejudice

When she refers to the severe, sanctimonious Mr. Radley, Miss Maudie simply says,

"You are too young to understand it, ...But, sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of, oh, your father." (5) Innocence

What Miss Maudie means is that religious fervor can go too far, especially when misinterpreting the Bible.  Mr. Radley has been ridiculously strict with poor Arthur Radley.

The trial of Tom Robinson is, of course, the climax with its intensity.   When Tom Robinson is on the witness stand, he is asked to describe all that has occurred on the property of the Ewells. As Tom describes how Mayella called him into the house and then her father appeared only to witness her trying to steal a kiss from Tom.  He yelled some obscenities at his daughter while Tom leaves the scene.  When Atticus asks, "Then you ran?" Tom says that he did, and he says that he was afraid.  Atticus, then, asks Tom,  "Why did you run?   Tom candidly replies,

"Mr. Finch, if you was a n---- like me, you'd be scared too." (19) Prejudice/racism

This statement of Tom's indicates the situation in which blacks lived in a Southern community, one that operated with certain prejudices.  Regarding racial prejudice, Atticus Finch says,

Why reasonable people go stark raving man when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand (9) Racism

After some of the testimony in Tom's trial, Dill becomes ill. Then, Mr. Dolphus Raymond offer Dill some of his drink in the paper sack. When Dill tells her it is nothing but Coca-Cola, Scout is shocked.  She asks Mr. Raymond why he pretends; she also asks, "Why do you do like you do?"  Mr. Raymond tells Scout something about people's prejudices,

"Well, it's very simple...Some folks don't--like the way I live....I try to give 'em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason.  (20) Prejudices

When the ladies of Alexandra's missionary tea hosts, there are several innuendos made concerning the forthcoming trial of Tom Robinson.  Afterwards, angered at the townspeoples' treatment of Atticus, Alexandra says,

"... He doesn't show it much, but it tears him to pieces.  I've seen him when--what else do they want from...?" (24) Prejudices

There are numerous incidences in which Scout and Jem learn from their experiences, or those of others. 

"...Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know—doesn’t say much for them, does it?” (16) loss of innocence

In the final chapter, Scout stands on the Radley porch:

Atticus was right...he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.  Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. (24) loss of innocence

Indeed, there is much that both Jem and Scout learn in Lee's novel.

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