To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (chapter.paragraph)
There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb, but to my mind it worked this way: the older citizens, the present generation of people who had lived side by side for years and years, were utterly predictable to one another: they took for granted attitudes, character shadings, even gestures, as having been repeated in each generation and refined by time. Thus the dicta No Crawford Minds His Own Business, Every Third Merriweather Is Morbid, The Truth Is Not in the Delafields, All the Bufords Walk Like That, were simply guides to daily living: never take a check from a Delafield without a discreet call to the bank; Miss Maudie Atkinson's shoulder stoops because she was a Buford; if Mrs. Grace Merriweather sips gin out of Lydia E. Pinkham bottles it's nothing unusual—her mother did the same. (13.32)
Family is destiny. Limiting? Sure.There's no way for a person to be different from their parents. But it allows people to indulge themselves without being judged because general opinion is that they can't help themselves.
Atticus's voice was even: "Alexandra, Calpurnia's not leaving this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn't have got along without her all these years. She's a faithful member of this family and you'll simply have to accept things the way they are." (14.28)
Aunt Alexandra's idea of family is exclusive (kick out those who aren't worthy of being counted in), while Atticus's is inclusive. She arranges family by blood, while Atticus considers affection and loyalty. Basically, it boils down to: do you judge a man (or woman) by his birth—or by his life?
"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."
"That's your father all over again," said Aunt Alexandra, "and I still say that Jean Louise will not invite Walter Cunningham to this house. If he were her double first cousin once removed he would still not be received in this house unless he comes to see Atticus on business. Now that is that." (23.84-85)
Atticus's and Aunt Alexandra's opinions might appear to have switched up a little—Atticus, as Jem quotes him, says that family is something you can't help, while Aunt Alexandra comes down on the side of choice. But in another sense their views haven't changed. Atticus is still concerned with keeping people in the family, while Aunt Alexandra wants to kick out the unworthy.