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50 Greatest Atticus Quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird

Published on November 15, 2019 7:35 AM EST
atticus finch quotes

He may be a fictional character, but we can all learn a little something from these Atticus quotes about life and the way we should be living.

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is the attorney that is assigned to represent Tom, a black man, who is wrongfully accused of a crime in the 1930s. Even though it’s a given that he will not be able to win the case, Atticus does his very best to defend Tom because he knows he’s innocent and it’s the right thing to do.

atticus finch quotes

His example of behavior and character in the book is one that we can learn from and be motivated by.

Don’t forget to also check out our collection of To Kill a Mockingbird quotes that will have you feeling nostalgic!

Atticus quotes about courage

1.) “Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down.” – Atticus Finch

2.) “No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ‘em get your goat.” – Atticus Finch

3.) “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. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” – Atticus Finch

4.) “It’s not time to worry yet…” – Atticus Finch

5.) “Don’t pay any attention to her, just hold your head high and be a gentleman.” – Atticus Finch

6.) “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.” – Atticus Finch

7.) “Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” – Atticus Finch

8.) “What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn’t be as hard as some men are at their best. 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.” – Atticus Finch

9.) “He’s the same in the court-room as he is on the public streets.” – Atticus Finch

10.) “Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.” – Atticus Finch

Atticus quotes that will instill in you a strong sense of morality and justice

11.) “There are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.” – Atticus Finch

12.) “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.” – Atticus Finch

13.) “Jen and I were accustomed to our father’s last-will-and-testament diction, and were at times free to interrupt Atticus for a translation when it was beyond our understanding.” – Atticus Finch

14.) “Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice. He is one of the few residents of Maycomb committed to racial equality.” – Atticus Finch

15.) “Atticus believes in justice and the justice system. He doesn’t like criminal law, yet he accepts the appointment to Tom Robinson’s case. He knows before he begins that he’s going to lose this case, but that doesn’t stop him from giving Tom the strongest defense he possibly can. And, importantly, Atticus doesn’t put so much effort into Tom’s case because he’s an African American, but because he is innocent. Atticus feels that the justice system should be color blind, and he defends Tom as an innocent man, not a man of color.” – Atticus Finch

16.) “Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” – Atticus Finch

17.) “I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go on about my business, he didn’t mind me much the way I was.”- Atticus Finch

Atticus quotes about people

18.) “Those are twelve reasonable men in everyday life, Tom’s jury, but you saw something come between them and reason. You saw the same thing that night in front of the jail. When that crew went away, they didn’t go as reasonable men, they went because we were there. There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn’t be fair if they tried.” – Atticus Finch

19.) “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand.” – Atticus Finch

20.) “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.” – Atticus Finch

21.) “But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.” – Atticus Finch

22.) “No, everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowin’. That Walter’s as smart as he can be, he just gets held back sometimes because he has to stay out and help his daddy. Nothin’s wrong with him. Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” – Atticus Finch

23.) “Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong …” – Atticus Finch

24.) “Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it.” – Atticus Finch

25.) “Atticus, he was real nice…” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” – Atticus Finch

26.) “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 quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em.” – Atticus Finch

27.) “Serving on a jury forces a man to make up his mind and declare himself about something. Men don’t like to do that. Sometimes it’s unpleasant.” – Atticus Finch

28.) “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.” – Atticus Finch

Atticus quotes about character

29.) “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” – Atticus Finch

30.) “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” – Atticus Finch

31.) “Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take.” – Atticus Finch

32.) “I do my best to love everybody.” – Atticus Finch

33.) “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.” – Atticus Finch

34.) “Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him.” – Atticus Finch

35.) “So it took an eight-year-old child to bring ‘em to their senses…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.” – Atticus Finch

36.) “It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” – Atticus Finch

37.) “Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?” – Atticus Finch

38.) “sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down—well, all I can say is, when you and Jem are grown, maybe you’ll look back on this with some compassion and some feeling that I didn’t let you down.” – Atticus Finch

39.) “Iif I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn’t meet his eye, and the day I can’t do that I’ll know I’ve lost him. I don’t want to lose him and Scout, because they’re all I’ve got.” – Atticus Finch

40.) “Try fighting with your head for a change…it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning.” – Atticus Finch

41.) “Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open.” – Atticus Finch

42.) “Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till the truth’s told. And you know what the truth is.” – Atticus Finch

Atticus quotes about racism

43.) “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” – Atticus Finch

44.) “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. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or the humblest JP court in the land, or this honourable court which you serve.” – Atticus Finch

45.) “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.” – Atticus Finch

46.) “Our courts have their faults as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” – Atticus Finch

47.) “There’s nothing more sickening to me than a low-grade white man who’ll take advantage of a Negro’s ignorance. Don’t fool yourselves—it’s all adding up and one of these days we’re going to pay the bill for it. I hope it’s not in you children’s time.” – Atticus Finch

48.) “That was the one thing that made me think, well, this may be the shadow of a beginning. That jury took a few hours. An inevitable verdict, maybe, but usually it takes ‘em just a few minutes.” – Atticus Finch

49.) “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never possible.” – Atticus Finch

50.) “Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”- Atticus Finch

What can you learn from these Atticus quotes?

We are all faced with decisions from time to time on how we will choose to act and what type of person we will choose to be. Atticus Finch is a great fictional example of a man that has strong principles and lives by them regardless of what others think of him because of it.

If you are in a trying time right now, you can use some of the quotes above to encourage you to stick with it. Things aren’t always easy but that doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing. As Atticus points out, all men are created equal and should be treated as such.

Which of these Atticus quotes resonated with you best? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Feel free to share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear all about it.

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