What are some quotes that depict the internal and external conflicts that Atticus Finch faces throughout the novel?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus vs. Himself

In Chapter 9, Atticus is having a discussion about the upcoming Tom Robinson trial with his brother, Jack. Atticus understands that he has a difficult, if not nearly impossible, task ahead of him. His main conflict is with his decision to take on a case of this magnitude in the prejudiced town of Maycomb. Atticus is concerned that his decision to defend Tom Robinson will negatively affect his children. He says,

"You know what's going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease." (Lee 117)

Atticus vs. Society

In Chapter 15, Walter Cunningham and the Old Sarum bunch surround Atticus at the Maycomb jailhouse outside of Tom Robinson's cell. Walter tells Atticus to move out of his way because they intend to harm Tom. This scene depicts Atticus' conflict with Maycomb's racist community members. Atticus displays courage and integrity by saying,

"You can turn around and go home again, Walter." (Lee 202)

Atticus vs. Family

In Chapter 14, Aunt Alexandra approaches Atticus concerning Calpurnia's role in the family. Alexandra begins to argue with Atticus after Calpurnia took the children to her church when he was in Birmingham. Alexandra suggests that Atticus should fire Calpurnia. Atticus defends his decision to keep Calpurnia around. Atticus says,

"Alexandra, Calpurnia's not leaving this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn't have got along without her all these years. She's a faithful member of this family and you'll simply have to accept things the way they are. Besides, sister, I don't want you working your head off for us---you've no reason to do that. We still need Cal as much as we ever did." (Lee 183)

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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