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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird


by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird Jean Louise Finch (Scout) Quotes

How could this be so, I wondered, as I read Mr. Underwood's editorial. Senseless killing—Tom had been given due process of law to the day of his death; he had been tried openly and convicted by twelve good men and true; my father had fought for him all the way. Then Mr. Underwood's meaning became clear: Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed. (25.28)

If the real trial takes place in the "secret courts of men's hearts," is the public trial pointless? What purpose did it serve? Is anything different now?

Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be. (9.1)

Is it just us, or is there a big dose of hypocrisy here? (1) Atticus doesn't want Scout fighting, but he promises to "wear her out," i.e. physically punish her in some way; (2) he wants her to keep it in, but he also wants her to be honest. Being a kid sure is confusing.

[Jem] was certainly never cruel to animals, but I had never known his charity to embrace the insect world.

"Why couldn't I mash him?" I asked.

"Because they don't bother you," Jem answered in the darkness. He had turned out his reading light.

"Reckon you're at the stage now where you don't kill flies and mosquitoes now, I reckon," I said. "Lemme know when you change your mind. Tell you one thing, though, I ain't gonna sit around and not scratch a redbug."

"Aw dry up," he answered drowsily.

Jem was the one who was getting more like a girl every day, not I. (24.7-12)

If compassion is a girl's quality, then why have most of Scout's lessons on compassion come from Atticus? Maybe the larger cultural message that feelings=feminine trumps her personal experience. In any case, she's using the idea that "compassion" equals "girl" in order to assert that "girl" definitely does not equal "Scout."