What are some quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird that would fall under the theme or category of Coming of Age and Loss of Innocence?Please also provide which chapter it's from. Quotes and what Harper...

What are some quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird that would fall under the theme or category of Coming of Age and Loss of Innocence?

Please also provide which chapter it's from.

Quotes and what Harper Lee is saying about the subject (coming of age/loss of innocence).

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    Loss of innocence is certainly one of the major themes of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Below are some examples with quotations.

1.  THE DEATH OF ATTICUS'S WIFE.  Jem and Scout's mother dies of a heart attack when Scout is just two.  (Chapter 1)

"I did not miss her, but I think Jem did. He remembered her clearly, and sometimes in the middle of a game, he would sigh at length and then go off and play by himself... When he was like that, I knew better than to bother him." 

2.  MISS CAROLINE.  Scout's first grade teacher has no appreciation of her reading skills. On Scout's very first day of school, Miss Caroline directs her to tell Atticus to stop teaching her. (Chapters 2-3) 

"You tell him I'll take over from here and try to undo the damage--" 

3.  ATTICUS, THE NIGGER LOVER.  First Cecil Jacobs and then Cousin Francis tells Scout that her father is a "nigger-lover."  (Chapter 9)

    "He's nothin' but a nigger-lover!"
    "He is not," I roared. "I don't know what you're talkin' about, but you better cut it out this red hot minute!"

4.  RAPE AND THE WHORE-LADY?  When Scout asks this question of her Uncle Jack (in Chapter 9), he beats around the bush. But in Chapter 14, she asks Atticus directly, "What's rape?"

    Atticus looked from behind the his paper...
    He sighed, and said rape was the carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent. 
    "Well if that's all it is why did Calpurnia dry me up when I asked her what it was?"

5.  MR. DOLPHUS RAYMOND.  A wealthy white man who preferred the company of Negroes, Raymond was purported to be a drunk and a bit of a crackpot. Scout found out differently during a break from the trial.  (Chapter 20)

    I had a feeling that I shouldn't be here listening to this sinful man... but he was fascinating... But why had he entrusted us with his deepest secret? I asked him why.
    "Because you're children and you can understand it," he said, "and because I heard that one..."
    He jerked his head at Dill... "he won't cry, not when he gets a few years on him..."
    "Cry about the simple hell people give other people... Cry about the hell white people give colored folks without even stopping to think that they're people, too."

6.  CONVICTION OF AN INNOCENT MAN.  Jem was sure that Atticus had proved his case and that Tom would be found not guilty. He was wrong.  (Chapter 22)

    It was Jem's turn to cry...
    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem.
    "No son, it's not right."


reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Loss of innocence and coming of age are two themes that are interwoven throughout this novel.

One example from chapter 16 occurs when Scout learns about the nature of a mob when she confronts Mr. Cunningham outside the jail when he is part of the mob who has come to lynch Tom. She doesn't understand how a man they had helped and knew as a person could change. Atticus explains that “'Mr. Cunningham is basically a good man,'” he said, “'he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us'” (157). It is hard for the children to understand the different sides of human nature. As children, they believed that people were either good or evil, not both. This event forces them to understand the duality of human nature.

Later, Atticus explains, "'Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children . . . you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough'” (157). in this lesson the children learn that one must be grown-up enough to be able to walk in another person's shoes. Again, this relates to Jem and Scout coming of age.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in the loss of innocence comes from the title of the novel. When the children receive air rifles, Atticus tells them not to shoot a mockingbird. In fact, he says, "'remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird'”  (Chapter 10, 90). Miss Maudie agrees with Atticus: "' . . . they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird'” (90). In this passage, the children learn the nature of sin in hurting an innocent creature.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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