Give two of Atticus' sayings that Scout considers important in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the narrative of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout evinces that she has gained wisdom from the significant words of her father. 

During her narration of the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout evinces a legal astuteness unique to a child of her age; this knowledge has been acquired from discussions with her lawyer father, of course. One of the things that Scout has learned from Atticus is the following:

Atticus sometimes said that one way to tell whether a witness was lying or telling the truth was to listen rather than watch. (ch. 19)

This observation is mentioned as Scout listens to Tom Robinson on the stand. When he is asked if he ever went on the Ewell property without an express invitation from one of them, Tom replies quietly with "no hint of whining in his voice": "No, suh, Mr. Finch, I never did. I wouldn't do that, suh" (ch. 19).

After listening without watching, Scout remarks that she finds herself believing him in spite of his "protesting too much."

Another saying of Atticus that stays with Scout because of its importance is the following:

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. (ch. 11)

After Mrs. Dubose dies, Atticus tells both Scout and Jem that Mrs. Dubose took herself off morphine before she died because she wanted to die as a free person, "beholden to no one and to nothing." He considers this act one of great bravery.

Scout remembers this statement and considers it important as it applies to what Atticus has done during the Robinson trial. After all, Atticus knew he was defeated before the trial even began; however, he made his best arguments and questioned the witnesses as well as he could "no matter what." And, although he lost, Atticus made some important points as he tried hard to defend Tom Robinson. One such point that Atticus made is that in a court of law, everyone is equal, and, therefore, the defendant should be considered in this manner. Knowing the racial prejudice against Tom, Atticus nevertheless does his best.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two memorable quotations that remain essential to the themes of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both are "Atticusisms." One deals with his advice to Scout concerning the judging of people without a thorough understanding of the situation. It particularly deals with the character of Boo Radley.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

The other focuses on the theme of innocence that is directly reflected in the title. It was a warning from Atticus to Jem that was later repeated by Miss Maudie to Scout. Scout understood Atticus' meaning later in the novel when she compared Boo to a mockingbird.

"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
mikeytheboss | Student

thanks for the info! really helped out with some the more important conflicts in the book........

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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