What are some important quotes from chapters 13 to 16 in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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One of the conflicts that becomes evident is classism among the Maycomb residents. When Aunt Alexandra comes to visit, Scout reflects,

I never understood her preoccupation with heredity. Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had,...

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One of the conflicts that becomes evident is classism among the Maycomb residents. When Aunt Alexandra comes to visit, Scout reflects,

I never understood her preoccupation with heredity. Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had, but Aunt Alexandra was of the opinion, obliquely expressed, that the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was. (chapter 13)

Since Scout has been raised by Atticus, she sees a person's character and not his economic status as the determining factor in being a "fine" person. In Scout's eyes, a family like the Cunninghams could therefore qualify as "fine folks." However, her views stand in opposition to Aunt Alexandra's, who wants Scout to believe herself innately better than people like the Cunninghams because the Finches have lived in Maycomb longer and have a higher socioeconomic standing in town.

When Dill arrives unexpectedly, Atticus handles the situation with his typical sense of calm and levelheaded parenting:

“Whoa, son,” said Atticus. “Nobody’s about to make you go anywhere but to bed pretty soon. I’m just going over to tell Miss Rachel you’re here and ask her if you could spend the night with us—you’d like that, wouldn’t you? And for goodness’ sake put some of the county back where it belongs, the soil erosion’s bad enough as it is.” (chapter 14)

I don't believe many parents would handle this particular situation so calmly; finding a runaway friend hiding under your own child's bed would likely send most parents into a frenzy of planning. This situation demonstrates the character that Atticus will take with him into Tom's trial, which will cause great conflict for his entire family. He is certain to let Rachel know that Dill is safe, but he also calmly smooths over Dill's fears and even jokes about his dirty appearance, lessening the tension in the room.

When the lynch mob shows up at Tom's cell, it is Scout who finds a way to disperse the tension in the crowd:

“Well, Atticus, I was just sayin‘ to Mr. Cunningham that entailments are bad an’ all that, but you said not to worry, it takes a long time sometimes … that you all’d ride it out together. …” I was slowly drying up, wondering what idiocy I had committed. (chapter 15)

Scout finds a way to show Mr. Cunningham that Atticus is not his enemy; in fact, Atticus has found ways to help him when the Cunninghams could not afford payment. Her efforts are effective, and the gang leaves without harming Atticus or Tom.

In chapter 15, Mr. Underwood's voice emerges from the darkness; it turns out he'd been covering Atticus with a gun from an upstairs window. It would be easy to classify him as a "good" character until the following chapter:

“You know, it’s a funny thing about Braxton,” said Atticus. “He despises Negroes, won’t have one near him.”

Local opinion held Mr. Underwood to be an intense, profane little man, whose father in a fey fit of humor christened Braxton Bragg, a name Mr. Underwood had done his best to live down. Atticus said naming people after Confederate generals made slow steady drinkers. (chapter 16)

Mr. Underwood is known as a racist, yet he also helps Atticus and Tom that night. This quote shows the inherent mix of both goodness and evil in humanity. Mr. Underwood is a complex man who is capable of both.

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Aunt Alexandra shows up to live with her brother and his children in chapter 13. One of her biggest agendas is to teach Jem and Scout about their family history and how important the Finch name is to Maycomb County. In addition to this knowledge, she wants them to also learn to behave like a gentleman and a lady. She sends Atticus in to talk to the kids when her efforts don't seem to be helping them as she would like. Atticus says the following:

"Gentle breeding. . . She asked me to tell you you must try to behave like the little lady and gentleman that you are. She wants to talk to you about the family and what it's meant to Maycomb County through the years, so you'll have some idea of who you are, so you might be moved to behave accordingly" (133).

This passage is important because it is a big part of the children's life once Aunt Alexandra enters their life. There are many other discussions about "gentle breeding" and everything that goes with it throughout the book.

In chapter 14, there is a big shift in Jem and Scout's relationship. After a fight with Jem, Scout discovers that Dill has run away from his home in Meridian and is hiding under her bed. Scout sneaks into the kitchen to get him some food, but Jem tells Dill that he has to tell Atticus. Scout's description of what happened next is priceless:

"Dill's eyes flickered at Jem, and Jem looked at the floor. Then he rose and broke the remaining code of our childhood. He went out of the room and down the hall. 'Atticus,' his voice was distant, 'can you come here a minute, sir?'" (141).

Jem's growing up and acting like an adult. He tells Dill that he shouldn't worry his mother by running away. This is shocking for Scout and Dill to hear from a child because only adults talk that way. Jem is clearly changing, and as Scout so aptly puts it, "he broke" the childhood code of never snitching, which proves he will never be the same.

Next, in chapter 15, a lynch mob shows up to the jail for Tom Robinson on the night before his trial. The children show up to check on Atticus and Scout decides to talk to Mr. Cunningham about his son that she knows and his legal problems. Scout does not know what she's saying or doing, but she rambles on long enough to get Mr. Cunningham to change the mob's mind.

"Atticus said nothing. I looked around and up at Mr. Cunningham, whose face was equally impassive. Then he did a peculiar thing. He squatted down and took me by both shoulders. 'I'll tell him you said hey, little lady,' he said. Then he straightened up and waved a big paw. 'Let's clear out,' he called. 'Let's get going, boys'" (154).

This is a great moment because a child tames an angry mob of men. Scout not only tames the men, but they stand down and leave so that Tom lives and is able to show up for his trial the next day. The reactions on everyone's faces shows just how ironic the situation is--so much so, that there's nothing else to do but go home.

Finally, in chapter 16, Jem expresses his concern for Atticus and that Mr. Cunningham would have hurt him that night by the jail. Jem is also surprised that Atticus would call Mr. Cunningham a friend after that. Atticus responds as follows:

"Mr. Cunningham's basically a good man. . . he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us. . . but son, you'll understand folks a little better when you're older. A mob's always made up of people, no matter what. Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man. Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know--doesn't say much for them, does it?" (157).

This passage has to do with Atticus's credo. He tries to see things from other people's perspectives before judging them. He usually doesn't criticize them even then. There are so many learning and growing experiences in these passages that anyone can apply each on to his or her life and recognize its true impact in life and the world around us.

 

 

 

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