To Kill a Mocking Bird – H3a Reading Group Review, 4 April 2012

To Kill a Mocking Bird

by Harper Lee

Throughout our discussion of Harper Lee’s classic novel, we were struck by the many instances where the story seemed to reflect the author’s own early life. It is therefore appropriate to start with a short biography of Harper Lee and to draw out some of the parallels between her life and the characters in the book.

The book remains a staple of high school and college reading lists, beloved by millions of readers worldwide for its appealing depiction of childhood innocence, its scathing moral condemnation of racial prejudice, and its affirmation that human goodness can withstand the assault of evil.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on To Kill a Mockingbird.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002.

A Short Biography of Harper Lee[1]

She was born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, a tiny town about halfway between Montgomery and Mobile, two locations that have iconic, not to say notorious, status in the history of civil rights movement.

Her first name, Nelle, is her grandmother’s name spelled backwards. When she came to write her one and only novel, apparently she chose to have Harper Lee on the cover, for fear of being wrongly called Nellie.

The youngest of four children, she grew up as an unruly tomboy in a small town, fighting in the playground, talking back to her teachers, and resisting any form of conformity.

Her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature from 1927 to 1939, and part owner of the local newspaper. He once defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients were hanged. Her sister, Alice, became an attorney. For most of Harper Lee’s life, her mother, Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, suffered from mental illness.

One of her closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote (then known as Truman Persons). Tougher than many of the boys, Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman’s protector. Truman, who shared few interests with boys his age, was picked on for being a sissy and for the fancy clothes he wore. While the two friends were very different from each other, they both shared in their sense of “apartness”. In third grade Truman moved to New York to be reunited with his mother but returned most summers to Monroeville.

Harper Lee studied law, but writing was her first love. She went to Oxford briefly as an exchange student. When she returned to her law studies, she dropped out in the first semester. She then went to New York where she worked for Eastern Airlines and British Overseas Airways Corporation.

She became friends with composer/ lyricist Michael Brown and his wife. The Browns gave her a year’s salary so she could stop working and pursue her career as a writer. The Browns also helped her find an agent, Maurice Crain. He, in turn, was able to get the publishing firm interested in her first novel, first titled Go Set a Watchman, then Atticus, and later To Kill a Mockingbird.

In July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was published and by that time four national mail order book clubs had already selected it for their readers. A condensed version of the story appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine. It remained at the top of the hard cover best sellers list for over 80 weeks.

In 1961, To Kill a Mockingbird won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and several other literary awards. Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation. Lee visited the set during filming and did a lot of interviews to support the film. Earning eight Academy Award nominations, the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird won four awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch.

The book was a runaway success, but one that Harper Lee did not necessary welcome unreservedly.

I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.

After Mockingbird, Harper Lee published only a few short essays: Love – In Other Words in Vogue in 1961; Christmas to Me in McCalls in 1961; and When Children Discover America” in McCalls in 1965.

In 2012, at age 86 she continues to live a quiet, private life in New York City and Monroeville with her sister Louise. Active in her church and community, she usually avoids anything to do with her still popular novel.

On May 7, 2006, Lee wrote a letter to Oprah Winfrey (published in O, The Oprah Magazine in July 2006). Lee wrote about her love of books as a child and her dedication to the written word:

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.

President George W. Bush presented Harper Lee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on November 5, 2007.

The Biographical Parallels between the life of Harper Lee and the world of To Kill a Mockingbird

We concluded that whilst the novel is not a classical autobiography, it is clear that Harper Lee in writing it drew deeply from her own early life and the zeitgeist of the late 1950s.

Some of the  parallels between the life of the author and the world of the characters in the book include:

  • The setting of the book is a tiny fictional town in Alabama, named Maycomb, the county town in the early 1930s.
    • Harper Lee was born in the tiny town of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1926.
  • The family name of Atticus, Jem, and Scout is Finch.
    • Harper Lee’s mother’s maiden name  was Finch.
  • One of the families in the book is called Cunningham.
    • One of Harper Lee’s mother’s names is Cunningham.
  • One of the main protagonists, Scout, is a fiercely independent, bright, but non-conformist tom-boy.
    • Harper Lee grew up, “an unruly tomboy in a small town, fighting in the playground, talking back to her teachers and resisting any form of conformity.”
  • Atticus, Scout’s father, is a small town lawyer, and a member of the State Legislature. He is imbued with a deep sense of justice and courage to match. In his early career. the first two men he defended became the last two men to be hanged in Maycomb Jail.
    • Harper Lee’s father was an attorney and served in the State Legislature. He too unsuccessfully defended a black client and his son who were found guilty of murder and hanged. Allegedly he was a committed segregationist until the late 1950s. Interestingly, he lived to witness the extraordinary success of his daughter’s first and only novel.
  • Dill is a slightly odd little boy, who spends the summers with his Aunt, next door to Jem and Scout’s home. His full name is Charles Baker Harris. He is proud that he can read but Jem and Scout are not impressed. “You look right puny for goin’ on seven,” opines Jem.
    • Harper Lee’s summer neighbour was Truman Capote and it is said that, when they were children, she protected him when he was picked on by other children. It is assumed that he serves as the model for Dill.

In one of the book’s major plotlines, Scout and her brother Jem and their friend Dill explore their fascination with a mysterious and somewhat infamous neighborhood character named Boo Radley. One commentator writes:

Harper Lee has downplayed autobiographical parallels. Yet Truman Capote, mentioning the character Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, described details he considered biographical: “In my original version of Other Voices, Other Rooms I had that same man living in the house that used to leave things in the trees, and then I took that out. He was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us. We used to go and get those things out of the trees. Everything she wrote about it is absolutely true.”

The Language in the Book

One of the outstanding features of the book is its rich visual nature. Time and again, wonderful images are conjured up using highly inventive language. Take for example the description of Maycomb in the opening pages of the book:

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop . . . [s]somehow it was hotter then . . . bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum. . . .

One of our American members, who has read this novel many times over the years, warned us that we may find some of the vocabulary and idioms a bit challenging. It was, he said, a pretty accurate representation of the sounds of the Deep South, which is totally unlike any speech found anywhere else in the States.

Whilst not a barrier to total understanding, certainly some of us found ourselves resorting to our dictionaries and Google to fathom out some of the more abstruse words and phrases. For the record, here are a few selected from many charming examples.


The scuppernong is a large variety of muscatine, a species of grape native to the southeastern United States. It is usually a greenish or bronze colour and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and larger. Ralph Lane, an early settler of the region, mentions them when writing Raleigh:

We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and pleasant, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater.

It is the state fruit of North Carolina and is mentioned in the State Toast.[2]


In American child lore, a kind of infectious disease. The term may have originated with references to lice, fleas, and other parasites. A child is said to “catch” cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, or touching of an “infected” person or from a person of the opposite sex of the same age. Often the “infected” person is someone who is perceived as “different” and bears some kind of social stigma: of the opposite sex, disabled, someone who is shy or withdrawn, someone who has peculiar mannerisms, etc. References to cooties appear in many films and other media.[3]

 ‘druthers:   the right or chance to choose; “given my druthers, I’d eat cake”

Unceiled: “First Purchase Church was unceiled and unpainted inside”. We presumed it meant that it had no ceiling, that the roof was the ceiling.

Touchous: Apart from the obvious connotation of “being touchy” or “over sensitive”, one member linked it to the Atticus’s massaging Jem’s hair after the foiled lynching of Tom. It was, says Scout, “his one gesture of affection.”

Octagon Soap:

Still available, apparently, this is a lye-based soap manufactured by the toothpaste maker Colgate.

Asafoetida  (also known as devil’s dung, stinking gum, asant, food of the gods, giant fennel, Jowani badian, hing and ting) is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, which is a perennial herb (1 to 1.5 m high). The species is native to Afghanistan Mountains and are imported to India.[2] Asafoetida has a pungent, unpleasant smell when raw, but in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavor, reminiscent of leeks. This is a plant with which we are familiar in the Bodrum area. Here its close relation is known as Giant Fennel in English and dev rezene in Turkish.

Hoover Cart: One definition reads as follows:

The remains of the old tin Lizzie being pulled by a mule. During part of the great depression of the 1930’s when Herbert Hoover was president, many automobile owners could not afford gasoline to power their cars so would cut off the rear end of the vehicle, attach a tongue and pull it as a cart with either a horse or mule. Others simply took the rear end housing out of the car, built a wooden cart over the housing and pull this with a horse or mule. These carts acquired the nickname “Hoover Carts” in “honour” of President Hoover.[4]


Poke Salat: Salat is the German word for salad, and probably came to the Ozarks with German settlers. Poke salat is made from pokeweed. In towns pokeweed is found growing wild in alleyways and vacant lots. In the country it grows in the fence rows and along the edges of woods. When mature it has clusters of shiny purple berries that birds love to eat.

After a long winter without fresh food, the early settlers looked forward to cooking the first tender green leaves of pokeweed. It gave them vitamins and was a good spring tonic. They’d cook it up with lamb’s quarters and dock, which are also early spring greens. Some people today still cook and eat poke greens in the early spring.

Though the whole plant is poisonous, the young leaves can be eaten after cooking them using two changes of water. Poke is still used medicinally. Old timers in the Ozarks still eat one pokeberry a year as a preventative or to treat arthritis. In Arab, Alabama, they even have the Arab Poke Salat festival. In case you want to book ahead, here’s the website.[5] One event clearly not to be missed. One of our group remembered a song called “Poke Salad Annie” sung by Elvis Presley. For a real treat, for information on the song and to hear Elvis performing it, click on the links below[6].

Significance of the Title

Mockingbirds get almost casual mention in the course of the novel and yet they have great symbolic value: quite early on, before the mad dog Tim is shot by Atticus, “the mockingbirds were silent;” after Tom Robinson is shot, Mr Underwood compares his death to the “senseless slaughter of songbirds;” Atticus told Jem he could “kill all the blue jays you want …. But remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird;” Miss Maudie explains to Scout that “mockingbirds don’t do one thing… but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird;” Scout thinks in the end that hurting Boo Ridley would be like “shootin’ a mockingbird.”

 As a symbol, the mockingbird stands for innocence, and the mockingbirds are those innocents in the novel who are damaged or altered by their contact with evil:  Boo Ridley, Mr Raymond, Dill, and of course Tom Robinson.


“Simultaneously, a charming book and a very sad one”

This is how the book was described by one member during the discussion and it aptly summed up the two-way pull the writing has on the reader. The charm comes largely from the two children, Jem and Scout. Harper Lee‘s talent for showing us the world through the eyes of these two children is unsurpassed. She is brilliant at picking up the cadences, nuances of the speech, and social customs of young children – for example, the time-honoured practise of spitting on someone’s palm to seal a contract.

Through these two children, she shows us a world that is simultaneously beautiful and simple and yet so complex and poisonously ugly.

It was suggested by one of the members that To Kill a Mockingbird could be categorised as a picaresque novel. Novels such as Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim have been similarly classified. What they have in common is a central character that is something of a loveable rogue, taking the reader along on a romp through adventures, exposing the reader to situations that, in normal life, he would never experience. Consider Scout in her early “invasion” of Boo Radley’s house, the visit to the First Purchase church, her run-ins with her teachers, kicking over the traces with her Aunt and the missionary group meetings, and most of all, in her pivotal encounter with Mr Cunningham – Hey, Mr Cunningham, how’s your entailment comin’ on – she is unconventional, she is often reckless, she is by turns naïve and wise beyond her years but more than anything, she is the picaresco, the loveable rogue.

Of all the books we have read, it is hard to recall a book from which so many members were able to cite so many memorable passages. One member observed, “At last, a book with a decent man”, reflecting the fact that most of the books the group has read to date have had wicked men at their hearts.

All of us came armed with our favourite quotations. One member used many quotations to great effect in helping us to focus on the details of the book.[7]    Wonderful, evocative and memorable moments abound.

For example, many of us identified with the section describing Scout’s first day at school. Scout’s first encounter with the young inexperienced teacher, Miss Caroline, and her revelation that her father had taught her to read, triggered one member to recall how she had upset her new teacher by knowing more than she was supposed to know. This member asked to list countries in Asia, listed 17 – far more than was expected by her teacher; when she cited Singapore, teacher had her revenge “That is not a country, it is a city state.”

But as all children do, though intimidated by her early experiences, Scout gets her own back. When the teacher is reduced to tears by her inability to control the class, as Scout sees her crying she notes that she could have felt sorry for her, ”had her conduct been more friendly”.

The fantasies about Boo Ridley prompted another member to recall a house which he and his friends used to pass on their way to school. Tall, untrimmed hedges surrounded a large, dark, neglected house. The children had created a whole mythology about the old lady who lived there but who was seldom seen. Dared to run into the garden, this member recalls stealing a flower on the way out, and being caught by the owner. He got into trouble but much to the disappointment of his friends, he was not actually eaten by the old lady.

The Radley place had a similarly fearsome hold over the imagination of Maycomb’s children:

A Negro would not pass the Radley place at night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whilst as he walked. The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; from the Radley chicken yard tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the school yard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children: Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.

We could all recall how incredibly OLD adults seemed to us as children. In this regard, Jem and Scout were particularly cutting when describing their Father Atticus.

Atticus was feeble: he was nearly 50. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late.

Our father didn’t do anything. He worked in an office, not in a drugstore. Atticus did not drive a dump truck for the county, he was not the sheriff, he did not farm, work in a garage, or do anything that could possibly arouse the admiration of anyone. Besides that, he wore glasses.

However, the relative sunniness of the earlier sections of the book gives way to the darker side of Maycomb and with this darkening comes a growing awareness on the part of the children that life is neither so simple nor so innocent. Also they realize that their father did do something that people admired.

One of the fascinating aspects of the book was the way Harper Lee developed the children over the course of the story. They begin by being fun, charming, naïve. We are amused by their innocence and their naivety, but by the end of the book we realise that no one else knows any better than they.

Indeed, as the ugly reality of life in Maycomb impinges upon them when their father is required to defend Tom, they seem to acquire a maturity far beyond their years. As one person said, it is as though these events show them something that Scout particularly had railed against, namely how “background” placed responsibilities on them as people who would do the right thing for folks.

Naturally, the question of racial prejudice and hatred featured heavily in our discussions. The book was very much a book of its time, whether that was the early 1930s of the fiction, or the late 1950s and early 1960s when Harper Lee was writing it.

  • Harper Lee grew up in the shadow of the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the Great Depression; in southwest Alabama the droughts and heat waves that lead to the Dust Bowl disaster must have impacted her life.
  • Harper Lee was just 5 in the 1930s when the Scottsboro Affair took place. The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenage boys accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial. The case includes a frame-up, all-white jury, rushed trials, an attempted lynching, angry mob, and miscarriage of justice[8]. If she wasn’t aware of it at the time, undoubtedly it was a pivotal event that would have shaped her later thinking on the subject.
  • As she entered adulthood, in the years before writing Mockingbird, the whole civil rights movement was making significant strides forward:
    • In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in public schools.
    • In 1956, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of the coloured section of the bus to a white passenger.
    • In 1957, Martin Luther King and others formed the Southern Christian League conference.
    • In 1957, President Eisenhower intervened on the side of the Little Rock Nine students.
    • Mocking Bird was published 1960 at the start of a decade of unprecedented advances on the civil rights front, including the pivotal “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King in 1963 that gave huge impetus to the cause, leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It is perhaps not fanciful to suggest that the book, although set in the 1930s, was a very significant contribution to the civil rights debate that reached a crescendo in the 1960s.

The individual examples of racial prejudice cited in the book seem unconscionable to the contemporary 2012 reader. Just the matter-of-fact, casual use of racial language in the book – non-contentious and socially acceptable in 1930s and still normal when Harper Lee was writing – jangles the nerves of more enlightened readers in the 21st century.

Most of us were adults in the 1960s and can remember racial tensions, particularly in America and Great Britain. Images such as the abovementioned “I have a Dream” speech, or the black gloved fists of the American athletes jabbing the air at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968[i], are part of our collective memory.

Recently Prospect Magazine included this quotation from the autobiography of Tommie Smith who gave the Black Power salute on 16 October 1968.

I stood on the infield of the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, with a gold medal around my neck, black socks on my feet, and a glove on the right fist I had thrust in the air. My head was bowed, and inside that bowed head, I prayed—prayed that the next sound I would hear, in the middle of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” would not be a gunshot… I knew there were people, a lot of people, who wanted to kill me for what I was doing. It would only take one of them to put a bullet through me, from somewhere in the crowd of some 100,000, to end my life because I had dared to make my presence—as a black man, as a representative of oppressed people all over America, as spokesman for the ambitious goals of the Olympic Project for Human Rights—known to the world… This was my platform, the one I had earned by years of training my body and mind for the ultimate achievement.

Individuals in the bookclub cited experiences in their own lives of racism:

  • Marches in Paris by the extreme right.
  • Living in south France and the attitudes there.
  • A building collapses in South Africa – anyone injured? No, only a couple of niggers have fallen.  How like the account in Huckleberry Finn: Was anyone hurt? No, just killed a nigger. “Oh good, sometimes people do get hurt.
  • Crude words in the 1980s expressing refusal  to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday.
  • All-white country clubs slow to open membership to blacks or jews, even in the 1990s.

However, the raw racist events in Mockingbird – the near lynching of Tom, the warped outcome of the trial, the hypocrisy of the Mrs Merriweather, eyes filling with tears when she talked of the oppressed the Mrunas people, or of Miss Gates deploring the actions of Hitler against the Jews whilst ignoring appalling racial discrimination in their own back yard[9]– all these still have the power to shock.

One of us remarked that it brought home to him how far we have come since then but not with any sense of complacency. It took another to remind us of the events in Florida in March 2012, when black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot by a neighbourhood watch captain. The first black president of the most power nation on earth was moved to remark that “Trayvon Martin could have been my son”. The long delay in arresting the alleged murderer speaks volumes about how far we have yet to travel.

We decided that this was the first book we had all enjoyed. “Blindingly good” was how one member described one particular magic moment in the book. It is a phrase that could be employed for virtually every page.

1)    “I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.” …  “We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.” p. 1

2)     “Atticus’s office in the courthouse contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checkerboard and an unsullied Code of Alabama.” p. 5

3)     “A Negro would not pass the Radley place at night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whistle as he walked. The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; from the Radley chicken-yard tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the schoolyard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children:  Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.” p. 11

4)     ‘There goes the meanest man God ever blew breath into,’ murmured Calpurnia, and she spat meditatively into the yard. We looked at her in surprise, for Calpurnia rarely commented on the ways of white people.” p 15

5)     “‘Report and be damned to ye! Ain’t no snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher ever born c’n make me do nothin’! … He waited until he was sure she was crying, then he shuffled out of the building.” (Burris Ewell)  p. 37

6)     “‘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 – ’  ‘Sir?’ ‘- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’” p. 39

7)     “(Jem) declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn’t see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn’t? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” p. 79

8)     “‘If you shouldn’t be defendin’ him, then why are you doin’ it?’  ‘For a number of reasons,’ said Atticus. ‘The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.’” p. 100

8)     “I drew a bead on him, remembered what Atticus had said, then dropped my fists and walked away. ‘Scout’s a cow–ward’ ringing in my ears. It was the first time I ever walked away from a fight.”  p. 102

9)     (Atticus to Uncle Jack) “What bothers me is that she and Jem will have to absorb some ugly things pretty soon.  I’m not worried about Jem keeping his head, but Scout’d just as soon jump on someone as look at him if her pride’s at stake.” p. 116

10)“Before I’m through, I intend to jar the jury a bit — I think we’ll have a reasonable chance on appeal, though. I really can’t tell at this stage, Jack. You know, I’d hoped to get through life without a cause of this kind, but John Taylor pointed to me and said, ‘You’re it.’”  p. 117

11)“Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. He was much older than the parents of our school contemporaries, and there was nothing Jem or I could say about him when our classmates said, ‘My father -’” p. 11

12)(reacting to their father’s having shot Tim — the mad dog) “‘Naw, Scout, it’s about something you wouldn’t understand. Atticus is real old, but I wouldn’t care if he couldn’t do anything – I wouldn’t care if he couldn’t do a blessed thing.’” p. 131

13)“‘Yes indeed, what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising? I’ll tell you!’ She put her hand to her mouth. When she drew it away, it trailed a long silver thread of saliva. ‘Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!’” p. 135

14)“‘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 you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.’” p. 149

15)“‘It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike – in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ‘em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.’” p. 167

16)“Jem made a tentative swipe under the bed. I looked over the foot to see if a snake would come out. None did. Jem made a deeper swipe.

‘Do snakes grunt?’

‘It ain’t a snake,’ Jem said. ‘It’s somebody.’

Suddenly a filthy brown package shot from under the bed. Jem raised the broom  and missed Dill’s head by an inch when it appeared.”  p. 186

17)“‘Go home, I said.’   Jem shook his head. As Atticus’s fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them: … Mutual defiance made them alike.” p. 203

18)“‘Hey Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin’ along?’” p. 204

19)“Atticus and Jem were well ahead of us, and I assumed that Atticus was giving him hell for not going home, but I was wrong. As they passed under a streetlight, Atticus reached out and massaged Jem’s hair, his one gesture of affection.” p. 207

20)“‘You know, it’s a funny thing about Braxton,’ said Atticus. ‘He despises Negroes, won’t have one near him.’” p. 209

21)“‘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. … you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough.’” p. 210

22)“‘He’s a funny man,’ said Jem. “X’s his name, not his initial. He was in court one time and they asked him his name. He said X Billups.’” p. 212

23)“One corner of the yard, though, bewildered Maycomb. Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums … people said they were Mayella Ewell’s.” p. 228

24)“It was necessary either to back out to the highway or go the full length of the road and turn around; most people turned around in the Negroes’ front yards. In the frosty December dusk, their cabins looked neat and snug with pale blue smoke rising from the chimneys and doorways growing amber from the fires inside.” p. 229

25)“ … it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years.” p. 256

26)“‘It ain’t honest but it’s mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.’” (Dolphus Raymond) p. 268

27)“‘ … your pa’s not a run-of-the-mill man, it’ll take a few years for that to sink in – you haven’t seen enough of the world yet. You haven’t even seen this town, but all you gotta do is step back inside the courthouse.’” p. 269

28)“Someone was punching me, but I was reluctant to take my eyes from the people below us, and from the image of Atticus’s lonely walk down the aisle. ‘Miss Jean Louise?’ I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Sykes’s voice was as distant as Judge Taylor’s.   ‘Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” p. 283

29)“‘How could they do it? How could they?’

‘I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.’” p. 285

30)“‘I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.’” (Miss Maudie) p. 288

31)“‘… I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited, I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, maybe were making a step — it’s just a baby step, but it’s a step.’”

32)“‘I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco,’ was all Atticus said about it.” p. 291

33)“He said the Cunninghams hadn’t taken anything from or off of anybody since they migrated to the New World. He said the other thing about them was, once you earned their respect they were for you tooth and nail.” p. 298

34)“‘If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? … Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time … it’s because he wants to stay inside.’” p. 304

35)“‘We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.’

‘Who?’ Aunt Alexandra never knew she was echoing her twelve-year-old nephew.

‘The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us; the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord’s kindness am I.’”  p. 316

36)“Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom’s death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children …” p. 323

37)(about Miss Gates) “‘she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home –’” p. 331

38)“She brought me something to put on, and had I thought about it then, I would have never let her forget it:  in her distraction, Aunty brought me my overalls. ‘Put these on, darling,’ she said, handing me the garments she most despised.” p. 354

39)“The man who brought Jem in was standing in a corner, leaning against the wall. He was some countryman I did not know. He had probably been at the pageant, and was in the vicinity when it happened. He must have heard our screams and come running.” p. 356

40)“‘Mr. Finch.’ Mr. Tate was still planted on the floorboards. ‘Bob Ewell fell on his knife. I can prove it.’” p. 366

41)“‘To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service and draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight — to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head.” pp. 369-70

“‘Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?’” p. 370

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