What are some quotations and literary devices used in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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  • Probably the most famous is the quote used in the title of the novel. After the children have received air rifles for Christmas, Atticus tells Jem that it's okay to shoot all the blue jays he wants, since they are a pesky bird that harm human crops and such. But he warns him that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird," since they are harmless and only make music for people to enjoy.
  • Atticus' best advice comes as a warning to Scout: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Scout takes the advice to heart, especially at the end of the story when she steps in Boo's shoes and sees her neighborhood through his eyes for the first time.
  • "I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco." This is Atticus' humorous response after Bob spit in his face.
  • "In the name of God, do your duty... In the name of God, believe him." These are Atticus' final remarks to the jury in his summation during the Tom Robinson trial.

There are far too many literary devices used by author Harper Lee to mention. There is a great deal of symbolism--from the mockingbird (human and winged) to the injured arms of Tom and Jem to the "morphodite" snowman created by Jem and Scout (with a black center and white outside). I also enjoy many of the allusions made by Lee: Civil War, sports, political, educational, geographical, cinematic and literary are just a few of the types of references that can be found throughout the book. 

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