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What quotes best exemplify Atticus Finch and prejudice?

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amyailsah | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM via web

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What quotes best exemplify Atticus Finch and prejudice?

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schulzie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:41 PM (Answer #1)

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A character is shown by what they look like, how they act, what they say, and what others say about them. 

Atticus has been assigned this law case.  When Scout asks him why is is defending a Negro he says two things.

"For a number of reasons,,,,The main one is, if I didn't I couldnt hold up my head in town.  I couldn't represent this county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again." (pg 75)

When Scout asks Atticus if he defends "niggers", Atticus tells her,

"Of course, I do.  Don't say nigger, Scout.  That's common." (pg 75)

After Scout and Jem both have experiences with Francis and Mrs. Dubose calling their father a nigger-lover, Scout asks Atticus if he is a nigger-lover.  Atticus replies,

"I certainly am.  I do my best to love everybody....it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name.  It just shows how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you." (pg 108)

Atticus goes to the jail and sits there to defend Tom Robinson against the mob that just wants to hang him.  The children show up and change the whole situation.  However, Atticus was prepared to defend Tom from people who would harm him.

However we get the best insight into Atticus's view of prejudice after the trial.  Jem is very upset with the outcome of the trial, thinking it wasn't fair.  Atticus tells him,

"There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads -- they couldn't be fair if they tried.  In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins.  They're ugly, but those are the fact of life. "

Jem still isn't happy and complains that doesn't make it right.  Again, Atticus tells him,

"The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying those resentments right into a jury box.  As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it ---- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, the white man is trash." (pg 220)

After Tom is shot, and Atticus leaves to tell his wife, Aunt Alexandra tells Miss Maudie that she is concerned about Atticus.  She asks what the town wants from him.  Miss Maudie tells us about Atticus.  she says,

"Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man.  We trust him to do right. It's that simple." (pg 236)

When Aunt Alexandra asks who is asking him to do right, Miss Maudie replies,

"The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us; the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord's kindness am I." (pg 236)

 

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