The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, "To Kill a Mockingbird" became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made... read more
Written by Harper Lee and based on her youth in Monroeville, Alabama, the story takes place during three years of the Great Depression in the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb, Alabama. The narrator, six-year-old Scout Finch, lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Written by Harper Lee and based on her youth in Monroeville, Alabama, the story takes place during three years of the Great Depression in the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb, Alabama. The narrator, six-year-old Scout Finch, lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who visits Maycomb to stay with his aunt for the summer. The three children are terrified of, and fascinated with, their neighbor, the reclusive "Boo" Radley. The adults of Maycomb are hesitant to talk about Boo and for many years, few have seen him. The children feed each other's imaginations with rumors about his appearance and reasons for remaining hidden, and they fantasize about how to get him out of his house. Following two summers of friendship with Dill, Scout and Jem find that someone is leaving them small gifts in a tree outside the Radley place. Several times, the mysterious Boo makes gestures of affection to the children, but, to their disappointment, never appears in person.
Atticus is appointed by the court to defend a black man named Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. Although many of Maycomb's citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees to defend Tom to the best of his ability. Other children taunt Jem and Scout for Atticus' actions. Scout is tempted to stand up for her father's honor by fighting, even though he has told her not to. For his part, Atticus faces a group of men intent on lynching Tom. This danger is averted when Scout, Jem, and Dill shame the mob into dispersing by forcing them to view the situation from Atticus' and Tom's points of view.
Because Atticus does not want them to be present at Tom Robinson's trial, Scout, Jem, and Dill watch in secret from the colored balcony. Atticus establishes that the accusers—Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, the town drunk—are lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual advances towards Tom and her father caught her in the act. Despite significant evidence of Tom's innocence, the jury convicts him. Jem's faith in justice is badly shaken, as is Atticus', when a hopeless Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison.
Humiliated by the trial, Bob Ewell vows revenge. He spits in Atticus' face on the street, tries to break into the presiding judge's house, and menaces Tom Robinson's widow. Finally, he attacks the defenseless Jem and Scout as they walk home from the school Halloween pageant. Jem's arm is broken in the struggle, but amid the confusion, someone comes to the children's rescue. The mysterious man carries Jem home, where Scout realizes that he is the reclusive Boo Radley.
Maycomb's sheriff arrives and discovers that Bob Ewell has been killed in the struggle. The sheriff argues with Atticus about the prudence and ethics of holding Jem or Boo responsible. Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff's story that Ewell simply fell on his own knife. Boo asks Scout to walk him home, and after she says goodbye to him at his front door, he disappears again. While standing on the Radley porch, Scout imagines life from Boo's perspective and regrets that they never repaid him for the gifts he had given them.
“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”Atticus Finch
“<B>efore 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 Finch
“I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the Blue Jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”Atticus Finch
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch
“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.”Miss Maudie Atkinson
“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.”Atticus Finch
“I'm afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities.”Atticus Finch
“...sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of -- oh, of your father.”Miss Maudie Atkinson
“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.”Charles Lamb
“No, everybody's gotta learn, nobody's born knowin'.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
“I never figured out how Atticus knew I was listening, and it was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
“I shall never marry, Atticus.""Why?" "I might have children.”Uncle Jack and Atticus
“For one thing, Miss Maudie can't serve on a jury because she's a woman-" "You mean women in Alabama can't-?" "I do. I doubt if we'd ever get a complete case tried- the ladies'd be interrupting to ask questions.”Atticus, Scout
“Jem was a born hero.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
“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.”Miss Maudie Atkinson
“Mutual defiance made them alike.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
“<I>t's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you.”Atticus Finch
“... Atticus, he was nice ..." "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, Atticus Finch
“There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use this phrase <all men are created equal> out of context, to satisfy all conditions. The most ridiculous example I can think of is that the people who run public education promote the stupid and the idle along with the industrious--because all men are created equal, educators will gravely tell you, the children left behind suffer terrible feelings of inferiority.”Atticus Finch, in his closing argument to the jury
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