To Kill A Mockingbird: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. 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 summer's day; 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.-Scout (11)
  2. "What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some men are at their best.  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, and you can look down the street and see the results." -Miss Maudie (52)
  3. When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus wouldn't teach us to shoot.  Uncle Jack instructed us in the rudiments thereof; he said Atticus wasn't interested in guns.  Atticus said to Jem, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's 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.  "You're father's right," she said.  "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 mocking bird." (98)
  4. "They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions," said Atticus, "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." -Atticus (114)
  5. "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 Robinson's 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)
  6. "I don't know [how they could convict Tom Robinson], but they did it.  They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it-seems that only children weep."-Atticus talking to Jem (225)
  7. ".As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't 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)
  8. ".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? Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something.  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."-Jem (240)
  9. "I'm not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County.  Lived in this town all my life an' I'm goin' on forty-three years old.  Know everything that's happened here since before I was born.  There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead.  Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch.  Let the dead bury the dead."-Sheriff Tate (290)
  10. "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)