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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What quotes from Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird show social inequality?

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Atticus Finch is a respected member of the Maycomb community.  Unlike most of the people in Maycomb, he respects anyone from any group.

Atticus gives Scout some very important advice when she has trouble getting along with her teacher:

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-" (ch 3)

Atticus believes that everyone deserves privacy and respect.  Although most people in Maycomb condemn the Radleys as strange people, Atticus believes that they should be treated well too.

[When] Jem would question him Atticus's only answer was for him to mind his own business and let the Radleys mind theirs, they had a right to. (ch 2)

Atticus’s opinions extend to those of color and those of poverty.  This is one reason why he is chosen to defend Tom Robinson, and he does a good job.

I'm simply defending a Negro- his name's Tom Robinson. He lives in that little settlement beyond the town dump.  He's a member of Calpurnia's church, and Cal knows his family well.  She says they're clean-living folks. (ch 9)

Atticus respects Tom because Calpurnia speaks highly of him.  He also does his best to defend Tom, and to prove that Tom did not attack Mayella Ewell.

You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women- black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. (ch 20)

Atticus’s views are race are very progressive for the 1930’s.  He also feels the same way about social class.

Atticus said professional people were poor because the farmers were poor. As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by for doctors and dentists and lawyers. (ch 2)

Atticus teaches his children to respect everyone, including the poor.  Everyone is in the same boat, according to Atticus.  He teaches his children that what matters is a person’s character.

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