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Atticus Finch Quotes - From 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Harper Lee's famous character

By

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

HarperCollins

Atticus (in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee) is one of my favorite father figures in literary history (the character is believed to have been based on author's father). Atticus is a strong, fully developed character, who is willing to risk his life and his career in the pursuit of justice. He represents an important role model for Scout. In standing up for what he believes in, he demonstrates how important it is to sacrifice everything in the search for the truth (and not to be afraid of what you might find along the way).

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Here are a few of the quotes from Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

  • "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." - spoken by Atticus Finch, written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: This quote is one of my favorites (not just in the novel, but of all time)! Atticus gives this simple piece of advice to Scout, when she has had a hard day at school (and never wants to return).
     
  • "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbirdv

    Discussion: There are some things--in life and in society--that we can't do anything about (or so it often seems). They may be determined by majority opinion, or by representative vote.
     
  • "There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: When I first read this novel, I imagined it must be troubling to look at one's children, and know that their innocence would someday be lost. But, this quote means something very different to me--now that I'm a parent. I can identify the moments when my oldest son asked why there are "bad people." As Atticus told us long ago, I wish I could prevent the loss of innocence. I wish I could hide the ugliness, but as he says: "That's never possible."
     
  • "Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing 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." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: How do you define courage? Who do you identify as a courageous person (other than Atticus) in life or literature? Do you agree or disagree with this definition of courage?
     
  • "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 faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: Here's a perfect example of his philosophy (as it relates to children). Instead of the oft-heard quote about children best being "seen and not heard," Atticus sees, hears and responds. He validates their questions and concerns, demonstrating that he cares about what they think and who they are.
     
  • "Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it."
    - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: This statement is one of those quotes that some parents will debate on. David O. McKay offers a number of tactics for curbing the use of swear words (with a religious slant). Combating the use of inappropriate language is something that likely becomes part of any relationship between a parent and child. As a statement from Atticus, the quote is an example of how he views parenting/child rearing.
     
  • "Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Discussion: Atticus is an advocate for truth and justice. He believes strongly in standing up for what he believes in, even when it puts his own life at risk. In this way, he's shedding light on the truth, bringing all that's hidden or confused into the open.
     
  • "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." - spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
     
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