What are some quotes Atticus says in the book that makes him a respectful man in To Kill a MockingBird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples that show how Atticus is probably not only the most respectful man in Maycomb but also the most respected. One of my favorites comes after the trial of Tom Robinson, when Tom's friends show their admiration for Atticus in true Southern culinary fashion.

The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family: hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs...
     Calpurnia said, "... They 'preciate what you did, Mr. Finch. They--they aren't oversteppin' themselves, are they?"

Atticus no doubt " 'preciated" the food, but he knew that Tom's black friends couldn't afford this type of gratitude.

     Atticus's eyes filled with tears. He did not speak for a moment. "Tell them I'm very grateful," he said. "Tell them--tell them they must never do this again. Times are too hard..."

Atticus is even respectful toward cranky, old Mrs. Dubose, who often refers to him as a "nigger-lover."

When the three of us came to her house, Atticus would sweep off his hat, wave gallantly to her and say, "Good evening, Mrs. Dubose. You look like a picture this evening."
     I never heard Atticus say like a picture of what.

After Boo Radley comes to the children's rescue on Halloween night, Atticus respectfully acknowledges his deed.

When he got up and walked across the porch into the shadows, his youthful step had returned. Before he went into the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley. "Thank you for my children, Arthur," he said.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 9, Atticus explains to his daughter why he is defending Tom Robinson and encourages Scout to control her anger. Atticus reveals his tolerant, affectionate personality by reminding Scout that the people he is challenging are their neighbors. Despite their different opinions, Atticus explains to Scout that she must not become bitter and instead should remain tolerant at all times. Atticus says,

"It’s different this time . . . This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home." (Lee, 79)

Following the mob scene in chapter 15, Atticus reveals that he is a respectful, tolerant man by not criticizing Walter Cunningham. Despite the fact that Walter lied to Sheriff Tate and attempted to lynch Tom Robinson, Atticus tells his children,

"Mr. Cunningham’s basically a good man . . . he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us." (159)

In chapter 23, Miss Stephanie recalls how Bob Ewell spit in Atticus's face at the post office then challenged him to a fight. She says that Atticus simply wiped the spit from his face and calmly rejected Bob's challenge. Atticus's composed, tolerant demeanor once again reveals his respectful nature. When Bob asks if Atticus is too proud to fight, Atticus simply responds, "No, too old" (221). 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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