Let The Cup Pass From You

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gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter 9, Atticus has a discussion with his brother, Uncle Jack, about the upcoming trial. Atticus explains to his brother that he has no chance of winning. Uncle Jack then comments, "Let his cup pass from you, eh?" (Lee 55). As was mentioned in the previous post, this quote alludes to Matthew 26:30 which describes Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested to be crucified. Jesus asks God to let the cup pass from him but says that he will drink it if it is God's will. The cup that Jesus refers to is the suffering that he is about to endure. Similar to the suffering Jesus endured, Atticus will also suffer because he is choosing to defend a black man in a prejudiced community. Uncle Jack is essentially asking Atticus if he will not take the case in order to avoid the imminent suffering. 

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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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