Atticus Finch Quotes - From 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Harper Lee's Famous Father Figure Character

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, who is willing to risk his life and his career in the pursuit of justice for wrongly accused Tom Robinson. Atticus is an important role model for his daughter Scout, from whose perspective the novel is written.

Here are a few of the most memorable 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 some things--in life and in society--that we can't do anything about (or so it often seems). They may be determined by majority opinion, or by representative vote.

"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: How do you define courage?

Who do you identify as a courageous person (other than Atticus) in life or literature? Do you agree or disagree with this definition of courage?

"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: Here's a perfect example of his philosophy (as it relates to children). 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.

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

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Lombardi, Esther. "Atticus Finch Quotes - From 'To Kill a Mockingbird'." ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2017, thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730. Lombardi, Esther. (2017, February 20). Atticus Finch Quotes - From 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730 Lombardi, Esther. "Atticus Finch Quotes - From 'To Kill a Mockingbird'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/atticus-finch-quotes-739730 (accessed January 19, 2018).