Farewell, Harper Lee: Timeless Quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted by Hayley on February 19, 2016


Farewell, Harper Lee. We will miss your charm, your humor, and your wisdom.

The beloved author passed away on Friday in Monroeville, Alabama. Like many of you, we first fell under her spell in school. Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one the most taught works of fiction—and for good reason. While the story handles complex issues of race in the Deep South, it's all seen through the eyes of young Scout, one of literature's most endearing and unforgettable narrators.

Every year more readers find—and fall in love with—To Kill a Mockingbird. Not only is it the #4 most read book on Goodreads (ahead of other classics such as The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and Pride and Prejudice), but it is the #3 book with the highest number of 5-star ratings—people truly love this story.

A follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird was published last year. Go Set a Watchman was the book everyone talked about in 2015, and Goodreads readers were no different: They voted it the Best Fiction of 2015 in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Celebrate Lee's life and work with these timeless quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird.


1. "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

2. "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts."

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 see it through no matter what."


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4. "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."

5. "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 fightin' with your head for a change."

6. "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."

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

8. "Atticus said to Jem one day, 'I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. 'Your father's right,' she said. 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corn cribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'"

9. "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."


What's your favorite To Kill a Mockingbird quote?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 62 (62 new)


message 1: by Carpe (new)

Carpe Diem "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents."


message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca “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.”


message 3: by Kristen (new)

Kristen "Where are your pants, son?" I know it's not a deep, life-changing quote, but I crack up every time.


message 4: by Minh Trang (new)

Minh Trang "Nếu chỉ có một hạng người, tại sao mọi người không thân thiện được với nhau? Nếu tất cả là giống nhau, tại sao họ lại mất công coi thường nhau?"


message 5: by SmarterLilac (new)

SmarterLilac "Thank you for my children, Arthur."


message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy Trying to translate Minh Trang's lines in Post #4, I came up with the following:

"If only one class of people, why are people not friendly with each other? If all the same, why would they bother to despise each other?"


message 7: by Geri (new)

Geri "It was times like this when I thought my father who hated guns and had never been to wars, was the bravest man ever lived."


message 8: by Michela (new)

Michela Eu queria que você visse o que é realmente coragem, em vez de pensar que coragem é um homem com uma arma na mão. Coragem é quando você sabe que está derrotado antes mesmo de começar, mas começa assim mesmo, e vai até o fim, apesar de tudo. Raramente a gente vence, mas isso pode até acontecer.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Michela's choice translates to number 3 in the article:

"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 see it through no matter what."


message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I ~*In Loving Memory*~

description
~*Harper Lee*~
~*1926-2016*~


"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it"


message 11: by Himika (last edited Feb 21, 2016 02:21AM) (new)

Himika Chakraborty "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." and "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."Oh,and also "Miss Jean Louise,stand up.Your father's passin'".


message 12: by Melanie (last edited Feb 19, 2016 07:21PM) (new)

Melanie "Pass the damn ham, please." Always makes me laugh.


message 13: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I Levi wrote: ""People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.""

Wonderful one, Levi. Humbleness in all things is Beautiful.


message 14: by Udai (new)

Udai "Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself."


message 15: by Eda (new)

Eda “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.”


message 16: by Shikha (new)

Shikha Pal "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

Realization in 3...2...1!

Beautiful quotes; all of them. RIP Harper Lee.


message 17: by Lelyana (new)

Lelyana “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”


message 18: by Aiman (new)

Aiman RIP Harper Lee


message 19: by Niloo (new)

Niloo "Let him get a little older and he won't get sick and cry […] about the simple hell people give other people—without even thinking."


message 20: by Pratibha (new)

Pratibha Suku "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." ....
Madam Harper Lee you will live with us in us for forever and ever after. No will not miss you..because we miss something/someone which is all gone but you stay right here in us as always.


message 21: by AllyGC (new)

AllyGC Wow this is so sad to hear. I had to read TKMB for school and it was by far the best novel we've ever had to study. Such an amazing story.


message 22: by Randall (last edited Feb 20, 2016 12:47AM) (new)

Randall Krekelberg "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

You will always be remembered as one of the greats. RIP Harper Lee.


message 23: by Hind (new)

Hind H. I cherish every word of that book.
May she rest in peace. ❤️


message 24: by Krysti (new)

Krysti Brice So sad to learn of her passing. It's a comfort to know her work will live on.


message 25: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Turcios May she rest in peace


message 26: by Mahsa (new)

Mahsa Saber RIP


message 27: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante So many interesting quotes, but I still can't bring myself to want to read this one or it's sequel. :/


message 28: by Caroline (new)

Caroline My favourites are, most of them!! 1 3 4 7 8 9.
This is one of those books which will stay with you long after you have finished reading it .An absolute classic


message 29: by Eva (new)

Eva If you never read To Kill A Mockingbird, then your literary education is lacking. If you need a good reason to read this book, do so because it is a great commentary on the Old South. One learns through this book that people are all the same. Black, white, brown, yellow, folks are folks...no matter what part of the country(or world) you are from. As is said in "South Pacific" we are not born with prejudice, "you have to be carefully taught." Read the book. You will understand the sadness of hate, and never want to hate again.


message 30: by Astor (new)

Astor Teller The entire book is so full of memorable quotes, I just can't pick a favourite.

But God bless you, Harper. You gave inspiration to us all. May you rest in peace.


message 31: by Mia (new)

Mia How can you narrow down quotes from a book like TKAM?
I love when Dill say's "You got any books need readin' I can do it" and then a bit later "I'm little but I'm old"

I actually had a chance to quote that last one myself when my younger sister's friend patted me on the head (I was 17 they were 15) and inquired after my well being. They didn't get it.


message 32: by Arpita Das, (new)

Arpita Das, the hundred-eyed human “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
She'll always stay in our hearts. And we won't ask you for the rent!


message 33: by Mahlia (new)

Mahlia I loved everything about her work. Harper Lee, your my favorite author and will be greatly missed, but will live on in our hearts and memories. Shalom, chaver.


message 34: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Minh Trang wrote: ""Nếu chỉ có một hạng người, tại sao mọi người không thân thiện được với nhau? Nếu tất cả là giống nhau, tại sao họ lại mất công coi thường nhau?""

Rất hay!!!!


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

awww I just saw this. I loved her writing in "To Kill A mockingbird" my mom loved it too. I haven't read the other one ill my note to. I just cant believe she died ;(


message 36: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Eva wrote: "If you never read To Kill A Mockingbird, then your literary education is lacking."

Never read it, and don't have a desire to. My literary education included greats such as Plato, Homer, Josephus, Shakespeare, Lewis, Avi, Twain... It was never lacking. And having spent time in my formative years in places where prejudices are alive and thriving, I choose not to relive it in a story.

I can understand it's draw for those who have not lived that life, looking into another world, learning at school something they might not otherwise have seen or read, but it is one that is not for me.

If that makes me lacking, then I shall continue to lack, willingly.


message 37: by jubal harshaw (new)

jubal harshaw It fascinates me that she did not publish the sequel until shortly before her death. Maybe she heard "time's winged chariot hurrying near." A mystery that makes her life seem all the more romantic and noble. Given the book's theme, she epitomized honor and courage. Given the social and cultural time,her conscience was articulated with both eloquent elegance and bold heroicism. A Mockingbird indeed.


message 38: by Savannah (new)

Savannah Farewell, Harper Lee. Rest in peace. <3

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

"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 fightin' with your head for a change."


message 39: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Rest in peace, Harper, and always know that you are loved. You are missed..


message 40: by Marge (new)

Marge DuPrey Caroline wrote: "My favourites are, most of them!! 1 3 4 7 8 9.
This is one of those books which will stay with you long after you have finished reading it .An absolute classic"


Eva wrote: "If you never read To Kill A Mockingbird, then your literary education is lacking. If you need a good reason to read this book, do so because it is a great commentary on the Old South. One learns th..."

I use that quote from South Pacific frequently!


message 41: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin Phelan I remember read her book when I was 15 years ago i like her talent of work rest in peace from Caitlin


message 42: by jubal harshaw (new)

jubal harshaw Erma, you make me laugh. I mean holy moly it is astounding that someone who claims to be educated or at least well read would applaud their own ignorance. reading novels is only incidently about events,history,politics etc. primarily novels are an art form.Prose. the ability to use words as a sculptural medium.Harper Lee's work is definitely topical,then and now in an enduring and classical way. yet her great talent is to orchestrate the merely accurate historical elements of the story into a unique,inspiring work of literary art.a well written book transcends time,place or event. it has its own lifewhich in this case (i.e. TKAM) makes all who remain ignorant of it poignant examples of potential unrealized. please forgive me if I appear snobbish.actually I embrace humility,especially since I have much to be humble about. conversely being arrogant about one's ignorance evokes my laughter and my sorrowful tears.keep coming back.


message 43: by linda (new)

linda Jimmy wrote: "Trying to translate Minh Trang's lines in Post #4, I came up with the following:

"If only one class of people, why are people not friendly with each other? If all the same, why would they bother ..."

Thank you! That's mostly what I got from that too. Very compelling.

I think it elaborates on Harper Lee's quote: "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."


message 44: by Barbara (new)

Barbara RIP dear Harper Lee and thank you for giving us 'To Kill a Mockingbird' a treasure now and forever.


message 45: by Iwona (new)

Iwona I don't have one favourite quote. Before "Go Set a Watchman" was published last year, "To Kill a Mockingbird" had been available only at the libraries (at least in my country) so I had to borrow it. And I have this habit that whenever I read a borrowed book, I take photos of the parts that I particularly like. When reading "To Kill a Mockingbird", I ended up photographing the whole pages.


message 46: by Katya (last edited Feb 20, 2016 06:52PM) (new)

Katya Smith Kristen wrote: ""Where are your pants, son?" I know it's not a deep, life-changing quote, but I crack up every time."
I never even thought of that before, now that I'm thinking about it out of context I find it hilarious.


message 47: by Johnson (new)

Johnson “We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”


message 48: by Aditi (new)

Aditi Agrawal "Until I feared I would lose it, I
never loved to read. One does not
love breathing.."


message 49: by Gail (new)

Gail I cherish every word of that book. Haven't read it since high school for my senior honors English class. I think it is time to reread it and read the new book too. Prayers and hugs for Harper and her family.
Thanks for the classic book.


message 50: by Erika (new)

Erika Amazing quotes, I really need to read this book!


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