Let The Cup Pass From You

What does this quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird" mean? 

"Let this cup pass from you, eh?" (p. 88)


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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The quote is a Biblical allusion to the words of Jesus of Nazareth as recounted in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  As Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane after his Last Supper with his apostles, he suffered such agony at the knowledge of his imminent crucifixion that he entreated God to spare him from the tortures he knew he must endure.  He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42, NIV).

In "To Kill a Mockingbird", Atticus is talking with Uncle Jack about his role in the upcoming trial of Tom Robinson.  Atticus knows that he cannot possibly win, and that he will face the approbation of the community in trying to see justice done.  He confides to Jack that he had "hoped to get through life without a case of this kind", but that he had been chosen for the task by Judge John Taylor.  Jack comments wryly on Atticus's predicament by applying the words of Jesus, "Let this cup pass from you, eh?"  Atticus, like a Christ-figure, has been chosen to do something that will involve tremendous self-sacrifice, and he looks towards it with a feeling of deepest dread, but also with humble acceptance, courage, and dignity (Chapter 9).

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