6 Top Atticus Finch Quotes From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee's Famous Heroic Figure

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins

Atticus Finch is the hero of the classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. He is one of the best-known and most beloved father figures in American literature. Atticus is a strong, fully developed character: a man of principle who is willing to risk his life and his career in the pursuit of justice for wrongly accused Tom Robinson. Atticus cares deeply about the rights of individuals regardless of race, making him an important role model for his daughter, Scout, from whose perspective the novel is written.

Important Quotes from Atticus Finch

Here are a few of the most memorable and significant quotes from Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

"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."

Discussion: Atticus gives this simple piece of advice to Scout when she has had a hard day at school (and never wants to return). He encourages her to see things from others' perspectives. 

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." 

Discussion: There are many things in life and in society that are determined by majority opinion, or by representative vote. But we should never let others tell us what's right or wrong: we should abide by our own beliefs and conscience.

"Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing 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."

Discussion: Brute strength is not a form of courage. True courage is standing by what you know is right, even if you know there's a good chance you won't win your battle.

"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 faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

Discussion: Instead of the oft-heard quote about children best being "seen and not heard," Atticus sees, hears, and responds. He validates their questions and concerns, demonstrating that he cares about what they think and who they are.

"Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open." 

Discussion: Atticus is an advocate for truth and justice. He believes strongly in standing up for what he believes in, even when it puts his own life at risk.

“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.”

Discussion: Atticus teaches his children that they should stand by their own beliefs with courage and dignity. When we allow others to goad us into a physical fight, we have already lost the battle.

In Mockingbird's sequel (2015), many readers' perceptions of Atticus are completely altered, as we learn more about him. Read more about Atticus Finch and the stunning new revelations about him in Go Set a Watchman.

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Lombardi, Esther. "6 Top Atticus Finch Quotes From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee." ThoughtCo, Apr. 1, 2018, thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730. Lombardi, Esther. (2018, April 1). 6 Top Atticus Finch Quotes From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730 Lombardi, Esther. "6 Top Atticus Finch Quotes From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730 (accessed May 26, 2018).