What are five examples of dignity (using quotes) in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. In chapter 9, Atticus displays his dignity by explaining to his daughter the reason he is choosing to defend Tom Robinson despite the fact that the community disagrees with his decision. Atticus tells Scout, 

"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win" (Lee, 78).

2. In chapter 16, Miss Maudie displays her dignity by refusing to attend the Tom Robinson trial. While the rest of the community is travelling to the courtroom to watch Tom fight for his life, Maudie stays at home and hopes that Atticus sways the jury. When the children ask Maudie if she is going, she says, 

"I am not. ‘t’s morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it’s like a Roman carnival" (Lee, 161).

3. Tom Robinson displays his dignity during the trial by telling the truth about why he continually helped Mayella Ewell with chores without excepting pay. Tom tells the prosecutor,

"Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em—" (Lee, 201).

4. In chapter 23, Atticus explains to his children that one of the Cunningham family members in the jury voted for an outright acquittal. He then proceeds to describe the Cunningham family, and comments on their dignity by telling his children, 

"...the Cunninghams hadn’t taken anything from or off of anybody since they migrated to the New World. He said the other thing about them was, once you earned their respect they were for you tooth and nail" (Lee, 226).

5. Following Bob Ewell's death, Sheriff Tate displays his dignity by refusing to tell the community about Boo Radley's heroics. Mr. Tate tells Atticus, 

"To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an‘ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man, it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch" (Lee, 280).

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

WALTER CUNNINGHAM SR.  When Atticus provides Mr. Cunningham with legal advice concerning his entailment, Cunningham tells his attorney that he doesn't know when he will be able to pay. Atticus tells him to make it "the least of your worries." He explains to Scout that the Cunninghams are a different "breed of men." But Atticus knows he will be paid.

"Not in money," Atticus said, "but before the year's out, I'll have been paid. You watch."

MRS. DUBOSE.  During her final days, Mrs. Dubose successfully rids herself of her morphine addiction, a goal that caused her great pain but the ultimate satisfaction of dying "beholden to nothing and nobody." Atticus tells Jem that

"... I wanted you to see what real courage is... It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what."

DOLPHUS RAYMOND.  While Scout and Dill take a break from the trial, Mr. Raymond explains why Dill won't cry as frequently when he becomes grown. When Scout asks, "Cry about what?", Mr. Raymond emotionally tells her.

"Cry about the simple hell people give other people--without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too."

ATTICUS' TRIAL SUMMATION.  Atticus' memorable summation falls on the deaf ears of the jury, but in it he tries to explain the difference between the Ewells and the innocent, black defendant, Tom Robinson.

"And so a quiet, respectable, humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to 'feel sorry' for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people's..."

AUNT ALEXANDRA & MISS MAUDIE.  Following Atticus' announcement that Tom has been killed, Maudie and Alexandra put on their best faces and return to serving refreshments for the missionary circle. Scout is highly impressed with their demeanor.

After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could l. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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