From Chapters 27-31, what is one major quote and why is it significant in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One passage that is significant is found in Chapter 30:

"If this thing's hushed up it'll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I've tried to raise him....Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him... if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn't meet his eye, and the day I can't do that I'll know I've lost him.

This passage is important because it relates to the motifs of Morals and Ethics, as well as Family. Throughout the narrative, Atticus Finch has been, as Miss Maudie says, the same "in his house as he is on the public streets." So, when he confers with Sheriff Tate who insists that Jem has not killed Bob Ewell because Ewell fell upon his own blade, Atticus tells him that he does not want any special favors done for his son because of his position in town. Nor can he "connive" a falsification of what has happened in order to spare his son notoriety. He must continue to be the same "inside his house" or he will lose his own self-respect as well as the respect of his son. Setting a good example for his children is extremely important to Atticus; being a fair and upright man is also important to Atticus in his community as a lawyer, and in his life as a man.

These words of Atticus emphasize his ethical nature. Being a moral and ethical man is of paramount importance to Atticus Finch. If he is not morally and ethically right, Atticus cannot feel that he is an attorney or a father worthy of respect.

As it turns out, however, Tate convinces Atticus that Jem did not kill Bob Ewell. However, with having Bob Ewell fall on his own knife, Tate tries to protect Boo Radley from having to appear in court. While Atticus has been willing to allow Jem to appear in court because he does not wish to lose his son's respect, he sees the wisdom of what Tate says by letting retribution be the justice against Ewell.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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