5 Memorable Quotes That Make "Kill a Mockingbird" an Evergreen Classic

Each "To Kill a Mockingbird" Quote Is Pregnant With an Important Lesson

Harper Lee's Novel
To Kill a Mockingbird. Credit: Tasia Wells / Contributor/Getty Images

Harper Lee summarizes the story in the title -- To Kill a Mockingbird. A mockingbird represents innocence. The story tells us of an innocent man who is sentenced due to racial prejudice. Every To Kill a Mockingbird quote on this page preaches a universal truth.

Here are 5 most memorable quotes from the novel.

Miss Maudie Atkinson
"Things are never as bad as they seem."

This quote may seem like a cliche to many, but in the context of the movie, this quote has great significance.

Miss Maudie Atkinson is the witty neighbour who is a silent supporter of Scout and Atticus Finch. Miss Maudie wants to show her solidarity with the family. Her words may seem cliched, but it bears a lot of meaning and significance in the story.

Miss Maudie Atkinson
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

This particular quote is analogous to the theme of the story. The mockingbird portrays innocence and happiness. The mockingbird does not hurt anyone, and simply spreads happiness through its songs. The mockingbird is symbolic of Tom Robinson who was an innocent man, yet he was killed. With the example of the mockingbird, Harper Lee wants us to focus on the fact that the murder of Robinson was a sin.

Atticus Finch
"It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what."

This is a poignant quote from Atticus Finch, who wants to install the right values in his children. As a part of his moral education, Atticus made Jem visit Mrs. Dubose, a cranky old lady who was addicted to morphine. Jen had to read to her every day. Though Mrs. Dubose had been exceptionally harsh towards Atticus, he wanted his children to help Mrs. Dubose fight her drug dependancy through the readings.

Apparently, it helped her. After the woman dies, Atticus reveals his respect and admiration for the old woman who tried to fight her addiction with willpower. He considers that the mark of real courage.

Through this quote, the author establishes the courage of Atticus Finch, who has chosen to defend Tom Robinson despite knowing that he has no hope to win the case.

Atticus Finch
"Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it."

This is a quote worth thinking about. As parents, we often worry about children using abusive language. Children pick up cuss words from their peers, friends, and even adults. In this quote, Atticus Finch explains to his brother Jack that it is natural for kids to use foul language. If adults don't fuss about it, the need to use such words goes away. Atticus shows how well he understands his children, and he respects their need to get answers for questions.

"If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?"


This quote is a sad reflection on the kind of people that exist in the world.

The innocence of Jem and Scout is evident, as they try to analyse the adult world with their child-like understanding. The loss of innocence, and cynicism that creeps into the minds of little kids reflect poorly on the adult world. While kids look at people as one kind, it is the disparaging attitude of adults that creates rift among people.