To Kill A Mockingbird Innocence Quotes

I need 3 dialogue quotes that show childhood innocence in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.  Towards the end of chapter 15, when the angry mob comes to the jail to harm Tom Robinson, Scout and Jem happen to be there.  Scout, being a child, doesn't understand the full extent of the dangerous situation.  In her innocence, she recognizes Mr. Cunningham as one of the men there, and asks innocently,

"Hey Mr. Cunningham.  How's your entailment gettin' along?...I go to school with Walter...and he does right well.  He's a good boy."

She is casually making conversation with a man who has come to injure and possibly kill an innocent black man.  She doesn't quite understand the situation.  And, she is confused as to why he isn't responding to her, or being kind.  She narrates,

"Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in...So I tackled his entailment once more in a last-ditch effort to make him feel at home...I was slowly drying up, wondering what idiocy I had committed...'What's the matter?' I asked."

She feels awkward that everyone is just staring at her, and innocently asks them what is going on.  This instance of childhood innocence saves the day; it forces Mr. Cunningham to act as a decent, human being instead of an angry mobster.  He takes the mob and leaves--Scout's innocence put a face on the mean thing these men were going to to, and gave them a perspective check.

2.  In chapter 12, after Scout and Jem go to Cal's church, Scout is amazed at the fact that Calpurnia has a life outside of the one that she lives with them.  In her childhood innocence, she doesn't realize that Cal doesn't belong only to their lives, and has other situations going on. Kids are very self-focused, and understand the world only as it relates to them.  She states,

"That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me.  The idea that she and a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages."

3.  Scout asks question after question that reflects her naivety and innocence.  One is that she asks Cal, "What's rape?"  Another one is when she asks,

"Cal,...why do you talk nigger-talk to the--your folks when you know it's not right?"

Another is when Walter is pouring syrup on his food, she states,

"he would probably have poured it into his milk class had I not asked what the sam hill he was doing."

All of these questions reflect a childhood's innocent nature, one who doesn't know more adult and mature things in the world.

I hope that these thoughts help a bit; good luck!

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. In chapter 2, Scout is having a rough first day of school and meets up with Jem on the playground to vent about her terrible day. Jem attempts to comfort Scout by telling her,

"Our teacher says Miss Caroline’s introducing a new way of teaching. She learned about it in college. It’ll be in all the grades soon. You don’t have to learn much out of books that way—it’s like if you wanta learn about cows, you go milk one, see?" (Lee, 18).

When Scout responds by saying that she is not interested in cows, Jem displays his childhood innocence by saying,

"I’m just trying to tell you the new way they’re teachin' the first grade, stubborn. It’s the Dewey Decimal System" (Lee, 18).

Clearly, Jem has no idea what the Dewey Decimal System is and assumes that it has to do with Miss Caroline's experimental teaching style.

2. After the children attend their first Sunday service at First Purchase African M. E. Church, Scout asks Calpurnia several questions concerning the Tom Robinson case. Scout displays her childhood innocence by saying,

"Well, if everybody in Maycomb knows what kind of folks the Ewells are they’d be glad to hire Helen . . . what’s rape, Cal?" (Lee, 125).

Calpurnia avoids answering Scout's difficult question by saying,

"It’s somethin' you’ll have to ask Mr. Finch about . . . He can explain it better than I can" (Lee, 125).

3. In chapter 21, Jem and the children return to the court as the jury is deliberating, and Jem reveals his childhood innocence by telling Reverend Sykes,

"He’s not supposed to lean, Reverend, but don’t fret, we’ve won it,” he said wisely. “Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard—” “Now don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man . . .” But Jem took exception to Reverend Sykes, and we were subjected to a lengthy review of the evidence . . .

Jem does not factor racial prejudice into the case and naively believes that the white jury will acquit Tom Robinson. Despite Reverend Sykes's warnings about being overconfident, Jem remains adamant that Atticus will win the case.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question