To Kill A Mockingbird: Top Ten Quotes

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; grass grew on sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square.  Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summers day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square.  Mens stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning.  Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-oclock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.-Scout (11)

“What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldnt be as hard as some men are at their best.  There are just some kind of men who-whore so busy worrying about the next world theyve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” -Miss Maudie (52)

When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus wouldnt teach us to shoot.  Uncle Jack instructed us in the rudiments thereof; he said Atticus wasnt interested in guns.  Atticus said to Jem, “Id rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know youll go after birds.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit em, but remember its a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever hear Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.  “Youre fathers right,” she said.  “Mockingbirds dont do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They dont eat up peoples gardens, dont nest in corncribs, they dont do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  Thats why its a sin to kill a mocking bird.” (98)

“Theyre certainly entitled to think that, and theyre entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks Ive got to live with myself.  The one thing that doesnt abide by majority rule is a persons conscience.” -Atticus (114)

“The witnesses for the state.have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption-the evil assumption-that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber.  Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinsons skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you.  You know the truth, the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men cannot 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.”-Atticus (217)

“I dont know [how they could convict Tom Robinson], but they did it.  Theyve done it before and they did it tonight and theyll do it again and when they do it-seems that only children weep.”-Atticus talking to Jem (225)

“.As you grow older, youll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and dont you 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.”-Atticus (233)

“.If theres just one kind of folks, why cant they get along with each other? If theyre all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think Im beginning to understand something.  I think Im beginning to understand why Boo Radleys stayed shut up in the house all this time.its because he wants to stay inside.”-Jem (240)

“Im not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County.  Lived in this town all my life an Im goin on forty-three years old.  Know everything thats happened here since before I was born.  Theres a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for its dead.  Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch.  Let the dead bury the dead.”-Sheriff Tate (290)

“Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between.  Boo was our neighbor.  He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives.  But neighbors give in return.  We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.”-Scout (293)