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Analysis Of The Selected Quotes From “To Kill A Mockingbird” By Harper Lee

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Chapter 1

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Jem wanted Dill to know once and for all that he wasn’t scared of anything: “It’s just that I can’t think of a way to make him come out without him gettin’ us. Besides, Jem had his little sister to think of”. When he said that, I knew he was afraid. To Jem, fear is nothing to really be ashamed of. Jem is trying to be the older kid and look brave. But inside, Scout knows that he’s actually scared. This may be why kids are obsessed with Boo: acting like they’re not scared of him is kind of a way for them to show off to one another.

“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 the 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.” This quote paints a vivid picture of the town of Maycomb, which gives insight on Scout’s feelings toward Maycomb. It’s obvious that there is nothing really special or interesting where she lives-so she thinks. Nothing really goes on in the town of Macomb. The narrator provides the setting for the story and sets the mood for a dull and quiet town.

“People said that Boo went out when the moon was out, and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work.” It’s clear that basically everyone in Maycomb sees Boo as a creeper. He is a figure of misunderstanding and mystery. They blame him for the bad stuff that happens just because of his reputation. They even blame Boo for plants freezing-which is impossible for him to do-because he is such a menace to them.

Chapter 2

“Your father does not know how to teach. You can have a seat now.’ I mumbled that I was sorry and retired meditating upon my crime.” Scout’s first grade teacher makes her feel bad about being able to read when she should feel proud that she can read and write at a young age. Scout even apologizes for her ability as a crime. This exchange shows how many people in Maycomb are small minded.

“A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy, no money to buy it with, and nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.” In this quote we again get an idea about what life is like in Maycomb. They are poor and life is almost sleepy. It’s just a tired old town where the rest of the world doesn’t really seem to exist to them. This is the setting where Jem, Scout, and Dill will grow up and have their views of the world.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Even though she didn’t like to read, she learned to appreciate it more out of the fear of it being gone. We often don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Here Scout demonstrates this by referring to breathing because it is something that most of us take for granted. But if we would lose it, we would most definitely miss it. She also shows that she is a little more mature than others for her age by realizing this.

Chapter 3

“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.” This passage shows the special bond between Atticus and his daughter that they share. Scout learns more from her own father than basically anyone else. Atticus teaches Scout important things about life and life lessons that she doesn’t get from school. Scout always listens to her father very carefully. She has a lot of respect for him, and values his advice that he gives her.

“There’s some folks who don’t eat like us, she whispered fiercely, but you ain’t called on to contradict ’em at the table when they don’t. That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear? He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham.” Here we have Cal telling off Scout that company is company and they should be treated the same. In response Scout doesn’t even associate the Cunninghams with company-rather they are outsiders that are so low that they shouldn’t even eat with them. Cal feels the need to make it clear that it is very wrong of Scout to even think like that. In this quote, Scout-and pretty much everyone else-think poorly of the Cunninghams because they are African American and they are poor which isn’t something good to be going for them. The narrator expresses how African Americans are thought of as lower than whites.

“Hush your mouth! Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ comp’ny, and don’t you let me catch you remarkin’ on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ’em—if you can’t act fit to eat at the table you can just set here and eat in the kitchen!’ Calpurnia sent me through the swinging door to the dining room with a stinging smack.” Cal’s lesson here is to always respect people’s differences, even if you believe that you’re better than them. Acting like you’re always better than other people is the best way to show that you’re not. This interaction is a blow against the stereotype that white people have importance but African-Americans don’t. Cal quickly attacks this with a lesson of her own rebuking that.

Chapter 4

“Two live oaks stood at the end of the Radley lot; their roots reached into the side-road and made it bumpy. Something about one of the trees attracted my attention. Tin-foil was sticking out of a knot-hole just above my eye level, winking at me in the afternoon sun. I stood on my tiptoe, hastily looked around once more, reached into the hole, and withdrew two pieces of chewing gum minus their outer wrappers.” One of the first indications that Boo wants to and tries to be be friendly toward the children is that he has noticed their interest in his knot-hole tree. Boo then leaves gifts for them in it. By leaving simple and harmless gifts for them, it becomes clearer that Boo Radley is actually a good person, which is different from Scout and Jem’s original feelings about him. But Scout doesn’t realize that the gifts may be from Boo, although Jem is suspicious.

“As the summer progressed, so did our game. We polished and perfected it, added dialogue and plot until we had manufactured a small play upon which we rang changes every day.” Playfully acting out Boo’s life might be a way for the kids to deal with their fear of him. Maybe making it a game makes it easier for them to forget about its reality. They want to know more about Boo so they are probably making up what they think goes on in his house. All-in-all, the children are still curious about his life and it’s still on their minds.

“I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with.”Scout believes, from an early age, that girl things are bad and boy things are good. Scout pretty much believes that she can altogether avoid the badness of girls by not acting one. It’s obvious that she describes herself as a tomboy and acts like one. Scout believes is a girl because she was born one, not by how she acts and what she does.

Chapter 5

“There are just some kinds 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 strikes out at those who think that all pleasure is bad—except for the pleasure they take in judging their neighbors as sinners. Some people are more interested in worrying about keeping religious rules than they are about caring about the lives of the people around them. This can lead to the of problems we see and have in our world around us.

“So that’s what you were doing, wasn’t it?’ Makin’ fun of him?’ No, said Atticus, putting his life’s history on display for the edification of the neighborhood. Jem seemed to swell a little. I didn’t say we were doin’ that, I didn’t say it! Atticus grinned dryly. ‘You just told me,’ he said. You stop this nonsense right now, every one of you.” Atticus is rarely ever very stern with his children. But here, with his strong words, he makes it clear that the Radleys shouldn’t be made fun of and aren’t bad people. The children are thinking just like everyone else in the town by thinking poorly of him. This creates unspoken tension between him and his children, as they are not completely convinced.

“Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” Miss Maudie is describing Atticus’ personality which is always honest and morally upright. Unlike so many of the citizens in the town of Maycomb who demonstrate prejudice behind their friendly appearances, Atticus is always the same regardless of who he is around or where he is.

Chapter 6

“Then I saw the shadow. It was the shadow of a man with a hat on. At first I thought it was a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree trunks never walked. The back porch was bathed in moonlight, And the shadow, crisp and toast, moved across the porch towards Jem. Dill saw it next. He put his hands to his face. When it crossed Jem, Jem saw it. He put his arms over his head and went rigid.”The children believe this shadow man is Boo Radley and are completely frozen in fright. In this passage, the reader is shown how deeply afraid the children are of this mystery man. Boo’s existence has intensely affected their lives.

“Scout, I’m tellin’ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!” With that, I had no option but to join them.”This is an example of Jem’s way of insulting Scout, and he again gets the power to tell Scout what to do. Scout will do anything to not be called a girl as she is a big tomboy. Jem and most others know that. Jem likes to tell her that she’s acting like one to get his way and make her cooperate.

“It was then, I suppose, that Jem and I first began to part company. Sometimes I did not understand him, but my periods of bewilderment were short-lived.” Jem regrets his childish decisions when his dad specifically told him to not sneak into the Radley’s yard. But Scout doesn’t quite realize that one of Jem’s biggest fear is letting Atticus down. Jem wants him to think that he makes good choices. He wants his dad to treat him more like an adult than a kid.

Chapter 7

“As Atticus once advised me to do, I tried to climb into Jem’s skin and walk around in it: if I had gone alone to the Radley Place at two in the morning, my funeral would have been held the next afternoon. So I left Jem alone and tried not to bother him.” Here is where Scout uses Atticus’ advice to help resolve conflict in her life. Scout has shown great respect for her father and brother, and also demonstrates a high level of maturity for her age.

“We went home. Next morning the twine was where we had left it. When it was still there on the third day, jem pocketed it. From then on, we considered everything we found in the knot-hole our property.” This is the start of the kids eagerly looking for gifts in the hole. They enjoy getting them and also find it quite amusing. This is a sign that someone is going out of their way to be nice to them, which doesn’t quite sound like the “scary” Boo Radley.

“Why no son, I don’t think so. Look at the leaves, they’re all green and full, no brown patches anywhere-’ ‘It ain’t even sick?’ ‘That tree’s as healthy as you are, Jem. Why?’ Mt. Nathan Radley said it was dyin’.” The kids realize that Mr. Radley doesn’t want them to find anything else in the knot-hole. That’s why he lied to them. Even after 15 years of shutting his son up, Mr. Radley still doesn’t want Boo to have contact with the outside world. Clearly his son does and his dad knows it.

Chapter 8

“Thank who? I asked. Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you. My stomach turned to water and I nearly threw up when Jem held out the blanket and crept toward me. ‘He sneaked out of the house-turn ’round-sneaked up, an’ went like this!” Even though Scout was pretty freaked out to hear that Boo Radley was away only inches from her, she is starting to realize that this mysterious man is just trying to befriend and protect her. Boo doesn’t want to hurt them and they shouldn’t judge just by his history.

“You ain’t grievin‘, Miss Maudie?’ ‘Grieving, child? Why, I hated that old cow barn. Thought of settin’ fire to it a hundred times myself, except they’d lock me up…Don’t you worry about me, Jean Louise Finch. There are ways of doing things you don’t know about. Why, I’ll build me a little house and take me a couple of roomers and—gracious, I’ll have the finest yard in Alabama. Those Bellingrath I’ll look plain puny when I get started!” We see Miss Maudie’s remarkable optimism and spirit when her house was burned down. Miss Maudie is already thinking to the future and not her burnt down arn. She still looks at the bright side which helps show Scout to do the same when things go wrong.

“From now on I’ll never worry about what’ll become of you son, you’ll always have an idea.” As a father he always lets his kids be themselves. When Atticus came home, he could have been angry with his kids for messing up the lawn, but he was pleased with Jem’s creativity. Atticus is a great dad by letting them explore themselves and have fun, while also giving them important life lessons that they would use later in life.

Chapter 9

“You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.” Atticus is trying to teach Scout how to control her temper and to not let others get to her by making her mad. This is yet another example of Atticus showing his children how to be well-behaved and be great kids. Scout does eventually learn to follow her dad’s good advice.

“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.” A child’s curiosity should be fed and encouraged, not stifled. If a person doesn’t know the answer to a child’s question they shouldn’t pretend they do so as to seem smart, or try to change the point so as to avoid looking like they don’t know. It’s best to be direct and honest and not make the child confused. Atticus recognizes that his kids are different from adults, but he respects his children—which means no lying to them or avoiding hard truths.

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