To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are some quotes from Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird that show his principles and values? Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird - Atticus Finch

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

To further the discussion of lines and passages spoken by Atticus Finch, Scout and Jim's father explains one day why he has made Jem read to Mrs. Dubose:  He wants him to see what real courage is.

Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand.  It's knowing 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.

After dinner one Christmas, Uncle Jack talks with Atticus about the forthcoming trial of Tom Robinson, suggesting that maybe Atticus could get out of defending Tom. However, Atticus remarks that he must accept responsibility:

...Right.  But do you think I could face my children otherwise?  You know what's going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I cna get Jem and Scout  through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease. 

In Chapter 11 Atticus scolds Jem for cutting the tops of Mrs. Dubose's camellias in anger over her derogatory remarks about his father.  Atticus tells the children that he regrets that they are the butt of insults,

.."but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chps are down--well,...maybe you'll look back on this with some compassion and some feeling that I didn't let you down.  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."

When Scout counters with "Atticus, you must be wrong..." because "most folks" are of another opinion, Atticus tells her,

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions...but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself.  The one thing that dosen't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Nearly everything Atticus says reflects his values and principles.  I'll give you three of the most significant and common ones, and there will be plenty for others to add, I'm sure.

"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."

This is indicative of Atticus's belief that everyone has a story and deserves respect just for living.  He applies this philosophy to some pretty difficult circumstannces: Mayella in the courtroom, Mrs. Dubose as she's villifying both him and...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 857 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial