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18 Critical To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes, Explained

Posted by Ashley Robinson | Oct 9, 2019 3:00:00 PM

General Education

 

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Not only is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird one of the most widely taught books in American high schools, but it's also one of the most popular books in general. In fact, it was just recently voted "America’s favorite novel"! Its popularity has endured for decades, and it’s still taught in schools across the United States today.

That’s why we’re explaining the top 18 To Kill a Mockingbird quotes for you. In addition to becoming familiar with the stand-out moments of the novel, by the end of this article you’ll have a deeper understanding of the book’s themes, characters, and most important elements.

 

A Brief Overview of To Kill a Mockingbird

Before we jump into our picks for the most important To Kill a Mockingbird quotes, here’s a very, very brief overview of To Kill a Mockingbird's plot. (But make sure you read the book yourself—it’s definitely a book you need to know!)

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee that was published in 1960. It tells the story of events that take place in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. The narrator is Scout Finch, a six-year-old girl whose father, Atticus, is a prominent lawyer in the town.

Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, which makes the Finch family social pariahs. (Remember: this book takes place before the Civil Rights Movement in the United States!) The book follows Scout for three years as she and her brother, Jem, learn to navigate the racism in their community.

Now that you’ve had a quick refresher of the book’s plot, let’s dive into our picks for the best To Kill a Mockingbird quotes to know!

 

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Mockingbirds are common in the American South and are famous for mimicking the calls of other birds ... which is where they get their name! 

 

18 Critical To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes

We now introduce to you 18 of the most important To Kill a Mockingbird quotes you should know. In this section, you'll find an array of thought-provoking quotes, from To Kill a Mockingbird racism quotes that discuss one of the novel's central themes, to Atticus Finch quotes and more.

 

Quote #1: It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus said to Jem one day, "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 heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.

"Your 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 mockingbird." (p. 88)

This first quote on our list of critical TKAM quotes provides the book with its title, so we know it's important. Whenever you encounter a quote like this and want to analyze it, you should first ask yourself what the author is trying to tell you.

On the surface, this passage seems to have little to do with the novel’s major theme (racism) or any of its minor themes (morality, childhood, and the reality of rural Southern communities), but if we think about it, we find that it actually does.

On the one hand, these lines show that Scout is learning the community shares a set of values. Atticus isn’t the only person who thinks it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird; Miss Maudie, the neighbor across the street, does, too. Ultimately, the mockingbird is a symbol of goodness and hope, so this passage teaches readers about the difference between good and evil. The mockingbird and what it represents is "good," and killing it—or, rather, destroying innocence—is evil.

As Scout learns these values, she grows out of her childhood and into the shared society of Maycomb, her town. One of the many themes of To Kill a Mockingbird is Scout’s coming of age, or her growth out of childhood innocence and into adulthood. The technical name for this type of story is a bildungsroman, which is German for "education novel," but usually we just call them coming-of-age stories.

 

Quote #2: Atticus on Empathy

"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 ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (p. 32)

This is definitely one of the most important Atticus Finch quotes to know.

Empathy, or the ability to understand another person’s experiences, is another major theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Atticus serves as the moral compass of the book. For Scout and many other characters, Atticus is a model of what a good person should be: someone who values others and stands up for what’s right, no matter what society says.

To Kill a Mockingbird explores why racism exists and how we can counteract it. This line of dialogue, which comes early in the book, succinctly sums up Atticus’s opinion of racism: it’s an inability or unwillingness to try to understand the perspective of one who is unlike oneself. Throughout the book, we watch Scout take this lesson to heart as she tries to empathize with the perspectives of a diverse set of people in her community.

 

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Atticus and Tom Robinson in the 1962 film adaptation of TKAM

 

Quote #3: Atticus on Courage

In a flash Atticus was up and standing over him. Jem buried his face in Atticus’s shirt front.

"Sh-h," he said. "I think that was her way of telling you—everything’s all right now, Jem, everything’s all right. You know, she was a great lady."

"A lady?" Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. "After all those things she said about you, a lady?"

"She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe ... son, I told you that if you hadn’t lost your head I’d have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see something about her—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." (p. 107)

Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict who is able to conquer her addiction with Jem’s help. Initially she is racist and harsh, which terrifies Scout and Jem, but Atticus admires her because she lived "according to her views."

As you read these To Kill a Mockingbird quotes, you’ll notice the Atticus Finch quotes in which he’s speaking to Jem are quite different from those spoken to Scout. Atticus tries throughout the book to give Jem an alternative way of being courageous—and, consequently, an alternative way of being a good man. Atticus tries to show Jem that he can be brave simply by pursuing what he believes is right, even though he might ultimately fail. This quote teaches us that being a moral person can be courageous in itself.

In the first quote, we looked at how the book traces Scout’s growth, but one thing that makes this book so appealing is that the other characters all show growth, too. Jem is a little older than Scout—he’s 12 years old in Part Two—so he’s just about to grow into adulthood. This is a difficult time in a person’s life because they’re trying to find their place in society, so it’s important to Atticus that Jem understands violence isn’t brave at all.

 

Quote #4: Atticus on Conscience

"Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong ..."

"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." (p. 101)

While Scout and Jem’s growth in the book relates to their increasing knowledge of the adult society of Maycomb, Atticus’s growth relates to his desire to transcend these societal norms. He sees the ways that Maycomb’s ideas about race, manhood, and morality hurt many of its citizens.

What makes Atticus such a moral character is his tendency to follow his own instincts regarding what is right or wrong, rather than following the customs of his community. Because he is a very visible political figure in town, this characteristic sometimes makes him unpopular.

 

Quote #5: Atticus on Racism

"The older you grow the more of it you’ll see. The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. 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." (p. 207)

This is one of the more interesting To Kill a Mockingbird racism quotes because it’s one in which Atticus's thoughts on race are most clearly presented. Whereas many of the townspeople believe that white people are superior to black people, Atticus believes all people should have equal representation in a court of law. In other words, Atticus takes a bold stance against racism.

Furthermore, he states that a white man who uses his privilege to cheat a black man is, in fact, inferior to that black man. This would’ve been a very unpopular opinion in the community in this time period, and this passage is yet another example of Atticus's learning to transcend the customs of his community in order to live a more moral life.

 

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Maudie and Jem in the 1962 film (Classic Film/Flickr)

 

Quote #6: Jem on Family

"What if he was kin to us, Aunty?"

"The fact is that he is not kin to us, but if he were, my answer would be the same."

"Aunty," Jem spoke up, "Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t." (p. 210)

One of the most appealing aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird is that it gives us insight into what it means to be a family. Although Scout’s mother is absent—we don’t even learn her first name—we watch Atticus do his best to be a good father to Scout and Jem. Likewise, Scout and Jem are always doing their best to live up to Atticus’s example of decency.

While they aren’t a typical Maycomb family, they’re bonded together by love and respect. Through them, Lee shows readers that family isn’t about having two parents—it’s about the love that binds people together.

 

Quote #7: Atticus on Equality

"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or the humblest J.P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal." (p. 193)

Each character has his or her own conflict in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Atticus’s primary conflict is the clash between what he knows to be morally correct and the expectations of his community.

Here, we have another of the Atticus quotes in which he states that the goals of the courtroom, which are to create a just and equal society, are more important than the limitations of the local community; thus, they should not be subject to the same prejudices. Atticus is bold in these public assertions, which puts him in conflict with some of the other people in Maycomb.

 

Quote #8: Atticus on Empathy (Again)

"An’ they chased him ’n’ never could catch him ’cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things ... Atticus, he was real nice ..."

His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.

"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." (p. 263)

Once again, Atticus is teaching Scout to empathize with other people’s perspectives. Although Atticus is morally in conflict with the culture of Maycomb for much of the book, he is driven by the belief that everyone is, at heart, a decent person.

He understands that his fellow townspeople are sometimes driven by the pressure to conform to social customs rather than their own sense of right and wrong. Atticus seems to believe that if everyone were to follow their ethical instincts, they would choose to behave in a way that is moral, and this is the lesson he consistently tries to instill in Scout.

 

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Atticus and Scout in the 1962 film (Classic Film/Flickr)

 

Quote #9: Scout on Class

"No, everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowin’. That Walter’s as smart as he can be, he just gets held back sometimes because he has to stay out and help his daddy. Nothin’s wrong with him. Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks." (p. 212)

Walter Cunningham, Jr. is the son of a poor farmer who cannot afford to pay Atticus and instead pays him with things such as stovewood and hickory nuts.

Here, Scout is applying the lessons on empathy she’s learned from Atticus in order to understand the experiences of someone from a lower class. She realizes that though Walter doesn’t have the same advantages she does, he is doing his best to learn nonetheless. Not only does this quote show Scout’s growth as a character, but it also reinforces To Kill a Mockingbird’s theme of empathy.

 

Quote #10: Atticus on Nobility

"Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess. 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 ... it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning."

"Atticus, are we going to win it?"

"No, honey."

"Then, why—"

"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," Atticus said. (p. 75)

In this To Kill a Mockingbird quote, Atticus is telling Scout how to behave with honor in the face of adversity. Atticus’s conviction in his own morality puts not only himself in conflict with the townsfolk, but also, as he understands, his family. As someone who cares deeply about his family, Atticus tries to prepare them for the backlash; however, he also teaches them that there is dignity in defeat, so long as one follows their best ethical judgment.

 

Quote #11: Calpurnia on How to Treat Company

"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—"

"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!" (p. 28)

Again, Scout learns a lesson about class differences, and this time it comes from the family’s housekeeper, Calpurnia. The fact that Scout is receiving life lessons from an African American woman who is treated not only as an equal but also as a member of the family is an example of how different the Finches are from most of the other townsfolk.

It also shows readers who might have their own prejudices that people who are different from them are still people—and they deserve to be treated as equals and with kindness.

 

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Calpurnia, Jem, and Scout in the 1962 film (Classic Film/Flickr)

 

Quote #12: Atticus on Children

"Jack! 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. ..." (p. 85)

This is one of the lesser-known Atticus Finch quotes, but it's still an important one. Here, Atticus is talking to his brother John Hale Finch after Scout is heard cursing. This quote shows how Atticus treats his children as if they are as intelligent as adults (in this case, as if they are perhaps more intelligent than adults).

Atticus always treats everyone with respect and is very insightful in his views of human behavior, and this quote reveals his thoughts on parenting. He never claims authority over his children but rather leads by example, treating them more as peers than as kids. The fact that his children call him by his first name, Atticus, shows that they consider themselves on equal footing with him as well.

 

Quote #13: Atticus on Embellishment

"Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts." (p. 59)

This quote is Scout’s reply to Jem after he tries to impress her with his knowledge of Ancient Egypt. Although it’s a fairly off-hand comment on Scout’s part, it does help us understand a few things about Atticus.

One is that this is yet another example of his influence over his children. His opinions inform theirs throughout the whole book.

Another, more important, aspect of Atticus that this comment reveals is his straightforward moral sensibility. You can apply this to his decision to defend Tom Robinson. After deleting the adjective "black," Tom Robinson is no longer a "black man" but simply a man, which is the fact that guides the way Atticus treats and represents Tom.

 

Quote #14: Atticus on Scout’s Behavior

Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go on about my business, he didn’t mind me much the way I was. (p. 80)

Aunt Alexandra is Atticus’s older sister and is often more conservative than him. Here, she criticizes Scout’s dress and behavior, which would be described as "tomboyish."

Despite Aunt Alexandra’s criticism, Atticus encourages Scout to act and dress as she wishes. For the place and time period, Atticus is socially progressive, and this quote shows us another aspect in which Atticus trusts his children to be themselves and doesn’t try to force social customs upon them.

 

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Jem, Atticus, and Maudie in the 1962 film (Classic Film/Flickr)

 

Quote #15: Miss Maudie on Religion

"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 stopped rocking, and her voice hardened.

"You are too young to understand it," she said, "but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of—oh, of your father." (p. 46)

Although all the characters in the book are more or less devout Christians, many of them do not behave as such. These people often act with prejudice, malice, and fear. The hypocrisy of being outwardly religious but not compassionate or empathetic is one of the ironies that drives Atticus to act on Tom’s behalf.

In this quotation, Miss Maudie is correct that many of the most dangerous people in the town are the most devout. Atticus is once again held up to a high standard of behavior.

 

Quote #16: Scout on Reading

I mumbled that I was sorry and retired meditating upon my crime. I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church—was it then I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Now that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me ... I could not remember when the lines above Atticus’s moving finger separated into words, but I had stared at them all the evenings in my memory, listening to the news of the day, Bills to Be Enacted into Laws, the diaries of Lorenzo Dow—anything Atticus happened to be reading when I crawled into his lap every night. Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. (p. 21)

In this passage, Scout has been discouraged from reading by her teacher, Miss Caroline, who disapproves of Atticus having already taught Scout to read. As this quote illustrates, Scout considers reading to not only be a pleasure in itself, but also a major aspect of her relationship with her father and an essential aspect of her identity (as essential as breathing).

Here, we see how Atticus’s nurturing of his daughter’s intelligence has led to her rebellious, questioning identity, and it also reveals his own progressive views. Atticus’s choice of reading matter (the news of the day, Bills to Be Enacted into Laws, the diaries of the eccentric traveling preacher Lorenzo Dow) gives us insight into Atticus’s interests as well.

The fact that Atticus would share with a child as young as Scout such mature reading material reveals the respect he afforded her. He’s not trying to protect Scout from the realities of the world around her—instead, he wants to expose her to ideas so she can become an independent thinker and, hopefully, a kind person. That’s why Scout is upset to have lost not only the privilege of reading but also an important aspect of her friendship with her father.

 

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Quote #17: Scout on Summer

Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill. (p. 36)

The book takes place over about a two-year period, and we know this because Scout’s friend Dill, who only visits during the summer, visits three times. Many of the most memorable scenes take place during the summer (such as the incident with the rabid dog, the visits from Dill, the search for Boo Radley, and the hot courtroom of Tom Robinson’s trial), making the heat of summer almost like another character in the book.

Summer is also the time that the rebellious Scout is free from the social pressures of schoolis able to pursue her own interests and behave how she wishes. Summer symbolizes freedom and adventure for Scout, as it still does for many American students today!

Many authors think of setting (the time and place in which a story takes place) as one of the most important elements of a book. Setting is one of the ways in which readers most pleasurably engage with a book, because a well-described location can seem like a new world into which we can escape.

 

Quote #18: Scout on Jem’s Broken Arm

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt. (p. 8)

This is the opening paragraph of the book. Interestingly, the book begins with the last event of the entire book, Jem’s broken arm. Actually, the entire book serves as Scout’s explanation of how Jem came to break his arm.

This also tells us that the narrator, Scout, is living long after the events of the novel and is looking back in time in order to tell her story. This gives the book an atmosphere of nostalgia—we know she is recalling a childhood that has long since passed.

Many coming-of-age stories begin with the author long after the time frame of the book looking backward and watching themselves learn the lessons that seem important in retrospect. Why do authors do this? Because recalling the events from some future time period gives the narrator an excuse to understand what's important about the story in a way that someone living through it at the time wouldn’t.

As we go through our lives each day, we don’t know what is going to be important until after the factafter we’ve learned our lessons and look back on what led us to learn them.    

 

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5 Questions to Consider When Analyzing Book Quotes

Analyzing important quotations isn’t magic, but it does take practice. Whether you're looking at TKAM quotes or quotes from another book, you'll need to know how to analyze them smartly.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to be able to pick out the most important quotes in a book and analyze them like a pro.

 

#1: Why Is the Author Telling Us This?

Think of a work of literature as a series of choices an author has made intentionally in order to communicate something to the reader. So, when you encounter a passage that strikes you as significant in some way, try to place yourself in the author’s perspective and figure out why you think the author made the choices they did.

 

#2: What Does This Tell Us About the Character?

Characters are people, and, like people we know in our actual lives, they make decisions and act according to their motivations. Whenever a character does not seem to be realistically motivated, the character fails to move us. So ask yourself what the selection tells us about a character’s motivation and perspective.

 

#3: How Does the Setting Influence the Story?

A character who lives in a broken-down school bus in a junkyard will have a different perspective and will make different decisions than a character who lives in a 30-story housing complex. Both of these are examples of poverty, but they entail very different experiences—rural versus urban, and isolated versus overcrowded. Likewise, a story that takes place in a junkyard would have a completely different set of pressures.

Think about how the setting influences To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s set in the rural Southern United States, with its hundreds of years of slavery and racism. That creates a set of pressures quite different from, say, those in a major European city. In fact, To Kill a Mockingbird wouldn’t work if it were set anywhere else! Talking about why that is can lead to some really stellar analysis.

 

#4: What Can This Teach Me About My Own Life?

The reason literature is important is that it gives us insight into other peoples’ lives. As Atticus says, it allows us to "climb into [other people’s] skin and walk around in it." This gives us more understanding for perspectives unlike our own and broadens our sense of experience.

When you come across a passage in a book that hooks you for some reason, ask yourself why this specific passage feels relevant to you. What experiences have you had that are similar or intersect with this quote? This can be an excellent writing prompt if you’re looking for inspiration for a new essay.

 

#5: How Is This Still Relevant?

When you read the news headlines or current events, do you still see articles about racism? Are people still falsely accused of crimes, and do they sometimes get convicted due to the systemic biases of their communities? Is this still a thing?

Yes, it is. Sadly, it likely always will be, and that is why To Kill a Mockingbird is still so relevant, even 60 years since its publication. Likewise, communities still have common cultures, fathers still love their children, and little girls still chafe against the expectations of feminine dress and behavior.

Every generation finds new aspects of classic literature that inspire them and that they can relate to. When you’re trying to analyze a passage, try to find ways of relating it to the present-day world.

 

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Beyond To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes: Further Reading

Want to learn more about To Kill a Mockingbird? Here are four articles and books that will give you greater insight into Harper Lee’s famous novel!

 

"Why Harper Lee Struggled to Write Again After To Kill a Mockingbird" by Casey Cep

This excerpt from Cep’s book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee describes Lee’s later years, her struggles with fame, and her inability to write a follow-up to her famed To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a great pick for anyone who wants to know more about the reclusive woman behind the book. (And, of course, if you want to read Cep’s book, you can find it here!)

 

"Who Was Atticus Finch?" by Laura Douglas-Brown

This article explores the differences in how Atticus Finch is portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee’s other novel, Go Set a Watchman. It also describes Lee’s relationship with her own father, A. C. Lee, and how he served as an inspiration for the character of Atticus Finch.

 

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills

Marja Mills is a journalist who befriended Harper Lee and her sister, Alice. She lived next door to them for several years and wrote this portrait of Lee in her later years as she lived a life of near-solitude in Monroeville, Alabamathe city that inspired Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields

This is an adaptation for younger readers of Shields’s earlier biography of Lee titled Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee from Childhood to Go Set a Watchman. This book will give you a thorough overview of Lee’s entire life in a more accessible style.

 

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What's Next?

Trying to analyze literary quotes without knowing literary elements is ... well, it’s like trying to dig a hole without a shovel! If you’re going to analyze literature, you need to make sure you have the right tools for the job. Here’s a list of the elements you’ll find in every piece of literature, and here’s a guide to the 31 literary devices you absolutely need to know.

Did you appreciate our in-depth analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird? If so, you should check out our complete series on The Great Gatsby. We break down the book chapter by chapter and even have articles on character and theme analysis. By the end of our series, you’ll be an expert in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most popular work.

Maybe you feel super confident in your ability to tackle a novel, but poetry makes you break out into a cold sweat. Never fear: here are some guides to poetic styles (such as sonnets) and poetic elements (such as personification and iambic pentameter) to get you started. Also, we have a complete analysis of "Do not go gentle into that good night" written by a college professor so you can see what a great poetry analysis looks like!

 

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.



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