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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

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Quote #1

"Don't talk like that, Dill," said Aunt Alexandra. "It's not becoming to a child. It's—cynical."

"I ain't cynical, Miss Alexandra. Tellin' the truth's not cynical, is it?"

"The way you tell it, it is." (22.32-34)

Aunt Alexandra has an idea of what childlike behavior is (sweet and innocent, the Olsen twins before they hit puberty) and expects Dill to conform to that. But maybe this idea of childhood isn't entirely natural—it's just what adults expect children to be like.

Quote #2

"If Uncle Atticus lets you run around with stray dogs, that's his own business, like Grandma says, so it ain't your fault. I guess it ain't your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I'm here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family-"

"Francis, what the hell do you mean?"

"Just what I said. Grandma says it's bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he's turned out a nigger-lover we'll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin. He's ruinin' the family, that's what he's doin'." (9.96-98)

Family: the world's oldest excuse for telling people what to do. There's no real reason why Atticus's behavior should reflect on anyone but himself and perhaps the parents who raised him, but Aunt Alexandra seems to think it's her business, too. To be fair, given Maycomb's obsession with family, she has a point.

Quote #3

"I can't say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he's my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end." Her voice rose: "It tears him to pieces. He doesn't show it much, but it tears him to pieces." (24.76)

For all Aunt Alexandra says about family in the abstract, she does really care about her actual family members. Aw, she's all right.

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