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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird that demonstrate how conflict reveals a person's true nature


In To Kill a Mockingbird, conflict reveals true nature through quotes such as Atticus Finch's statement, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view," showing his empathy and moral integrity. Another example is Mrs. Dubose's fight against her morphine addiction, illustrating her courage and determination despite her outwardly harsh demeanor.

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What quote in Chapter 16 of To Kill a Mockingbird shows "conflict exposes a person's true personality"?

Walter Cunningham's turnabout at the jail in the previous chapter is still the hot topic at the Finch's table the next morning. The Cunninghams have previously been described as poor but honest people, so it is somewhat surprising that he was the man leading the lynch mob the night before. But Cunningham had probably been drinking, and he got caught up in a "mob mentality" until Scout's innocent conversation helped him to see the error of his ways. Atticus explains away Cunningham's actions as a "blind spot," though Jem believes "He'da killed you..." But Atticus insists that a mob is "always made up of people... made up of people you know."

     "So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That proves something... that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human."  (Chapter 16)

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Which quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird show that conflict exposes a person's true nature?

ATTICUS.  Atticus has given up the gun and carefully protected his secret about being the best marksman in the county from his children. But when the mad dog appears, and Sheriff Tate "almost threw the rifle at Atticus,"

... Jem and I watched our father take the gun and walk out into the middle of the street...
     With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder.  (Chapter 10)

JEM.  Jem isn't sure why Atticus is being confronted by the gang at the jail, but he senses that his father needs his help.

... Jem was not thinking of budging.
     "Go home, I said."
     Jem shook his head... Mutual defiance made them alike.  (Chapter 15)

SCOUT.  Scout is not impressed with the "ladies" of the Missionary Circle, but after learning of Tom Robinson's death and seeing how Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra react, Scout suddenly makes a stunning transformation.

     After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.  (Chapter 24)

BOO RADLEY Boo gives up the safety of his home to courageously rescue Jem and Scout from the murderous hands of Bob Ewell. He proves he is not a ghoul, but a hero. According to Sheriff Tate,

     "I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did... the one man who's done you and this town a great service... (Chapter 30)

DICK AVERY.  Mr. Avery is best known for his close kinship to Miss Stephanie; he, too, is a gossip who scolds the children without good reason. But on the night of Miss Maudie's housefire, Avery unexpectedly turns courageous. After everyone has left the burninghouse for the safety of the street below, Avery

... appeared in an upstairs window. He pushed a mattress out the window into the street and threw down furniture until men shouted, "Come down from there, Dick! The stairs are going! Get outta there, Mr. Avery!"  (Chapter 8)

COUSIN FRANCIS.  Scout's obnoxious cousin loves to run his mouth, but when he goes too far and feels threatened by Scout, he seeks out the safety of Alexandra's skirts. He is a coward who runs and hides when he deliberately angers Scout, baiting her by calling her "nigger-lover."

He jumped into the yard and kept his distance...
... looked at me carefully, concluded that I had been sufficiently subdued...
     This time I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth...
     Aunt Alexandra ministered to Francis, wiping his tears away with her handkerchief, rubbing his hair, patting his cheek.  (Chapter 9)

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