Harper Lee quotes
born April 28, 1926; American author, winner of the Pulitzer Price
The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising
from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare, were imprudent enough to do it in the
presence of three witnesses, and insisted that the son-of-a-bitch-had-it-coming-to-him was
a good enough defense for anybody.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, page 5
Jem and I found our father satisfacfory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with
courteous detachment. Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones;
she was nearsighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard.
Harper Lee, page 6
"Why don't you come over, Charles Baker Harris?" he said. "Lord, what a name."
"´s not funnier'n yours. Aunt rachel says your name's Jeremy Atticus Finch."
Jem scowled. "I'm big enough to fit mine," he said. "Your name's longer'n you are. Bet it's a
Harper Lee, page 8
Miss Caroline was no more than twenty-one. She had bright auburn hair, pink cheeks, and
wore crimson fingernail polish. She also wore high-heeled pumps and a red-and-white-striped
dress. She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop.
Harper Lee, page 21
Caroline caught me writing and told me to tell my father to stop teaching me. "Besides," she
said. "We don't write in the first grade, we print. You won't learn to write until you're in the
Harper Lee, page 24
"Jean Louise, I've had about enough of you this morning," she said. "You're starting off on the
wrong foot in every way, my dear. Hold out your hand." I thought she was going to spit in it,
which was the only reason anybody in Maycomb held out his hand: it was a time-honored
method of sealing oral contracts. Wondering what bargain we had made, I turned to the class
for an answer, but the class looked back at me in puzzlement. Miss Caroline picked up her
ruler, gave me half a dozen quick little pats, then told me to stand in the corner. A storm of
laughter broke loose when it finally occurred to the class that Miss Caroline had whipped me.
Harper Lee, page 28
"If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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."
Harper Lee, page 39
"You are too young to understand it," she said, "but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one
man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of - oh, of your father."
Harper Lee, page 60
There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've
never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.
Harper Lee, page 60
He tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him,
putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I
didn't see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the
Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where
would be today if they hadn't.
Harper Lee, page 79
For reaons unfathomable to the most experienced prophets in Maycomb County, autumn
turned to winter that year.
Harper Lee, page 85
No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your
head for a change... it's a good one, even if it does resist learning.
Harper Lee, page 101
"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after the birds. Shoot
all the bluejays you want, if you hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."...
"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 corncrips, they don't do one thing but sing their heart out for us."
Harper Lee, page 119
Marksmanship's a gift of God, a talent - oh, you have to practice to make it perfect, but
shootin's different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when
he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things.
Harper Lee, page 130
People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.
Harper Lee, page 130
Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide
by majority rule is a person's conscience.
Harper Lee, page 140
Her hands were knobby, and the cuticles were grown up over her fingernails. Her bottom plate
was not in, and her upper lip protruded; from time to time she would draw her nether lip to
her upper plate and carry her chin with it. This made the wet move faster.
Harper Lee, page 142
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man
with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin
anyway and you see it through no matter what.
Harper Lee, page 149
A few graves in the cemetery were marked with crumbling tombstones; newer ones were
outlined with brightly colored glass and broken Coca-Cola bottles. Lightning rods guarding
some graves denoted dead who resisted uneasily; stumps of burned-out candles stood at the
head of infant graves. It was ahappy cemetery.
Harper Lee, page 157
Reverend Sykes used his pulpit more freely to express his views on individual lapses from
grace: Jim Hardy had been absent from church for five Sundays and he wasn't sick;
Constance Jackson had better watch her ways - she was in grave danger for quarreling with
her neighbors; she had erected the only spite fence in the history of the Quarters.
Harper Lee, page 162
The church was becoming stuffy, and it occurred to me that Reverend Sykes intended to
sweat the amount due out of his flock. Fans crackled, feet shuffled, tobaco-chewers were in
Harper Lee, page 163
Today was Sunday, and Aunt Alexandra was positively irritable on the Lord's Day. I guess it
was her Sunday corset. She was not fat, but solid, and she chose protective garments that
drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed
to suggest that Aunt Alexandra's was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was
Harper Lee, page 170
In Maycomb, if one went for a walk with no definite purpose in mind, it was corect to believe
one's mind incapable of definite purpose.
Harper Lee, page 199
"So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That
proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still
human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children..."
Harper Lee, page 210
Nobody said, "That's just their way," about the Ewells. Maycomb gave them Christmas
baskets, welfare money, and the back of its hand.
Harper Lee, 257
"Shut your mouth, sir!" Judge Taylor was wide awake and roaring. He was also pink in the
face. His speech was miraculously unimpaired by his cigar.
Harper Lee, page 261
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal - there is one human
institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an
Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen,
is a court.
Harper Lee, page 274
This morning Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and
told him he'd get him if it took the rest of his life. "I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco,"
was all Atticus said about it.
Harper Lee, page 290
Had our classmates been left to their own devices, Jem and I would have had several swift,
satisfying fist-fights apiece and ended the matter for good. As it was, we were compelled to
hold our heads high and be, respectively, a gentleman and a lady.
Harper Lee, page 326
Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo
was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck
pennies, and our lives.
Harper Lee, page 373