Harper Lee 1960
A heart-warming story about Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch, a family who lives in Maycomb, Alabama at the height of racial inequality. It explores the hearts and deepest morality of all the characters in the story and effectively demonstrates the concept of truly understanding the other side of anything no matter how absurd it seems.
'When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football assuaged, he was seldom self-concious about his injury.'(opening lines)
'We lived on the main residential street in town--Atticus, Jem and I, plus Calpurnia our cook. Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.'(6)
'I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church -- was it then I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Not that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me, as learning to fasten the seat of my union suit without looking around, or achieving two bows from a snarl of shoelaces.'(17-18)
"Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' company, and don't let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty! You' folks might be better'n the Cunninghams but it don't count for nothin' the way you're disgracin' 'em--"(24)
"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 ... -- until you climb into his skin and walked around it."(30)
'Dill was a villain's villain: he could get into any character part assigned to him, and appear tall if height was part of the devilry required. He was as good as his worst performance; his worst performance was Gothic. I reluctantly played assorted ladies who entered the script. I never thought it as much fun as Tarzan, and I played that summer with more than vague anxiety despite Jem's assurances that Boo Radley was dead and nothing could get me, with him and Calpurnia there in the daytime and Attricus at home at night.'(39)
"You are too young to understand it," she said, "but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of -- oh, of your father."(45)
"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em. ... Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it. Hotheadedeness isn't. Scout's got to learn to keep her head and learn soon..."(87)
'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, 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)
'I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.'(112)
"Cry about the simple hell people give other people -- without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too."(201)
"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal--there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal on an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court."(205)
"A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up."(205)
"As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and you don't forget it-- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."(220)
"Atticus says you can choose your friends, but you sho' cant's choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."(224)
"If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?"(227)
"There are just some kind of men who--who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one..."
"But before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
"I do my best to love everybody... I'm hard put, sometimes--baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody think is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you."
a Warner Books Edition
Quotes updated March 19,2012