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Here are some important quotes.
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. (1)
Maycomb is a character in the book, as well as the setting.
“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,” Atticus said. (9)
Atticus knows that defending Tom Robinson is not going to be easy for him or his family, because he is up against significant racial prejudice. Nonetheless, he is doing it anyway because it is the right thing to do.
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. (10)
This is the quote that gave the book its title. It reminds us that the innocent are often targets, because their innocence is seen as weakness. We see this in the book’s two symbolic mockingbirds, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.
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.” (11)
This quote demonstrates that Atticus thinks it is his moral imperative to defend Robinson, even if the townspeople disagree.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” (11)
This is one of the most significant quotes from the book, because it highlights the importance of mental courage as well as physical courage.
Atticus was proceeding amiably, as if he were involved in a title dispute. With his infinite capacity for calming turbulent seas, he could make a rape case as dry as a sermon. (17)
This demonstrates something about Atticus. He is calm and judicious, and people listen to him.
“I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty.” (20)
When Atticus tells the jury to do their duty, he is aware that they are unlikely to acquit Tom Robinson. However, he is still putting his faith in them and in the jury system, even though he knows the deck is stacked against them.
Atticus was right. One time 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. (30)
Scout learns that the key to getting along with people is seeing things from their point of view, which is really the lesson of the entire book.
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