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What are three of the most important quotes in chapters 1-4 of To Kill a...

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andrelemus | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted March 10, 2010 at 8:53 AM via web

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What are three of the most important quotes in chapters 1-4 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:15 PM (Answer #1)

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Your question is unclear - are you asking for quotes that sum up chapters 1-4 together, or three quotes from each of the chapters? I will take a stab at giving you an answer. If this is not what you are looking for, please re-post your question.

Chapter 1 - this is an introductory chapter. We are introduced to the main characters, the town of Mayberry, and most importantly, Boo Radley. I think this quote is important:

The misery of that house began many years before Jem and I were born. The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb.

Scout is about to tell the reader about Boo Radley and how he came to be feared as a "malevolent phantom." The great irony of the novel is that the person so feared by the children turns out to be their savior. Throughout the novel, the hypocrisy and prejudices of a small southern town are exposed, so I think this quote sets the stage for this.

Chapter 2 - In this chapter, Scout and Jem go to school and Scout has a terrible first day with her new teacher, Miss Caroline. Scout already knows how to read, as Miss Caroline soon finds out, by making her read the alphabet and the newspaper. We learn more about Scout and what an unusual child she is. The new teacher tells Scout that she has learned to read all wrong, that Atticus should stop teaching her at home, and that she will take over. Miss Caroline tells Scout:

"Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I'll take over from here and try to undo the damage --.

I like this quote because it foreshadows, again, the irony that is such a big part of this novel. Scout is way ahead of the other children, and yet the teacher wants to go backwards with her learning. In the novel, the children are the ones that see things much more clearly than most of the adults. The children are the ones that have "fresh minds" and the adults are the ones who have tainted minds.

Chapter 3 - Scout and Jem return home from school, play together and wait for their father to come home. Both Calpurnia and Atticus realize Scout has had a hard day. In talking to Scout, Atticus utters one of the more famous quotes in the novel:

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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."

This quote proves prophetic as later, Scout learns to understand many people by trying to do this, notably Boo Radley, who she realizes is "the mockingbird" at the end of the novel, not the "malevolent phantom" of the beginning of the novel.

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