To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (chapter.paragraph)
"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.
After my bout with Cecil Jacobs when I committed myself to a policy of cowardice, word got around that Scout Finch wouldn't fight any more, her daddy wouldn't let her. This was not entirely correct: I wouldn't fight publicly for Atticus, but the family was private ground. I would fight anyone from a third cousin upwards tooth and nail. Francis Hancock, for example, knew that. (10.6)
Atticus is the same in both public and private, but not Scout—she's willing to toe the line and play it cool with outsiders, but she still fights with her own family. Is Atticus's opinion the only reason, or is there some other difference?
Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had, but Aunt Alexandra was of the opinion, obliquely expressed, that the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was. (13.28)
Scout's definition of "Fine Folks" is based on what their actions are (something they have control over), while Aunt Alexandra's is based on their family history (uh, can't help the crazy cousins). No rags-to-riches stories for her. She wants good solid staying-in-one-place-ness. While Scout's version allows people to get better through individual choice, in Aunt Alexandra's eyes, quality is a function of time more than anything.