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“[Sometimes] the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of—oh, of your father.” (5)
Sometimes the most pious people are the most destructive. Since religion was used as an excuse for racial prejudice and discrimination, this is an important statement.
As Atticus had once advised me to do, I tried to climb into Jem’s skin and walk around in it. (7)
You can’t really understand why another person does something unless you put yourself in the person’s place.
"[If] I didn’t [defend Tom Robinson] I couldn’t hold up my head in town"(9)
Atticus explains to Scout that he is defending Tom Robinson because he feels it is the right thing to do. It is an indication that to Atticus, a person’s moral code is more important than facing community condemnation.
I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand… I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough.” (9)
Atticus is worried that his children will be infected with the town’s racist notions. He wants them to learn from his example, and knows that it will be difficult for them to fight off society’s influences.
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. (10)
This quote from Atticus is one of the most famous in the book. Literally and metaphorically, it means that people tend to go after the weak, even though the weak often make the most contribution.
“Well now, Miss Jean Louise,” she said, “still think your father can’t do anything? Still ashamed of him?” (10)
The children are ashamed of Atticus until he shows considerable courage and skill when shooting the mad dog. This demonstrates that people are not always what they seem.
This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience—Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.” (11)
Again, Atticus demonstrates that while he is wrestling with the trouble the case is causing his family, he is still upholding his own moral code. He tells her that, “the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. 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. ... She was the bravest person I ever knew.” (11)
This quote demonstrates how physical and emotional courage are both two sides of the same coin, and sometimes courage is shown in unexpected ways.
“They’s my comp’ny,” said Calpurnia. Again I thought her voice strange: she was talking like the rest of them.
“Yeah, an‘ I reckon you’s comp’ny at the Finch house durin’ the week.” (12)
Race barriers work both ways. It's also an example of Calpuria being educated, but acting differently with uneducated people in order to fit in.
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