What quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird teach good lessons?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

ATTICUS FINCH. The first two examples of Atticus' advice to his children serve as major themes for the novel.

  • After Atticus purchases air rifles for his children's Christmas presents, he warns Jem to "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." The quote teaches a person to to respect harmless, innocent beings.
  • When Scout wants to quit school after her terrible first day with Miss Caroline, Atticus suggests that "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." The quote teaches about being tolerant toward others.
  • Following Mrs. Dubose's death, Atticus tells Jem that she was the "bravest person I ever knew." He describes a different type of personal courage--"It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." This also describes his attitude toward having accepted the responsibility of defending Tom Robinson. 


  • After the guilty verdict brought against Tom Robinson, Scout recognizes that the jurors had made up their minds before the trial even began. "Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom Robinson was a dead man the minute Mayella opened her mouth and screamed."


  • When Jem seems stunned that Atticus had never bragged about his marksmanship skills, Maudie tells him that "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents."
Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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