Ten Quotes: To Kill a Mockingbird

While reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, be on the lookout for telling quotations from the novel.  Highlight/Underline these and note in the margin which of the assignment requirements each satisfies.

One approach is to, every day, type up the quotes you have found from your reading as well as your commentary on them.  When you have finished the novel, you will only need to select the BEST quotes to submit.  Be aware that your opinions on what quotes are significant and why may well change as you read and your understanding of the book deepens.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Copy your quotation absolutely accurately. Note the page number(s).
  • Be sure to completely explain your quote and the function it fills in To Kill a Mockingbird. Anyone reading your quotations and explications should not have to read the assignment sheet to figure out what you are writing about.  Think of these as mini-essays, and remember to explain your thinking thoroughly.
  • Format your paper according to class word processing guidelines.

As an example, if we were doing this project on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, here is one way you could answer #5:

Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it suited him; nobody forbade him to fight; he could sit up as late as he pleased; he was always the first boy that went barefoot in the spring and the last to resume leather in the fall; he never had to wash, nor put on clean clothes; he could swear wonderfully.  In a word, everything that goes to make life precious, that boy had.  So thought every harassed, hampered, respectable boy in St. Petersburg. (46)

This description of a child who is without parents or a home would be sad, except that the narrator tells us that other boys envy Huck his absolute freedom.  Because the point of view is third-person omniscient, we get an objective description of Huck and learn how he appeals to his friends before we even meet him on the page.  If Huck or another boy told the story, we probably would be as biased towards Huck as his companions are.

Your quotes may be of any length, long or short.  You may begin each quote explanation with the quotation itself, as above, you may use the quote last or you may insert the quote in your explanation. The precise style of each explanation is up to you.


Find quotes for the information below. Remember, the exercises in this module are to prepare you for the final exam.

  1. Select a quotation from the novel that illustrates plot development and explain how the plot is expanding at that particular point.
  2. Select a quotation from To Kill a Mockingbird that depicts a social issue. Explain how and link it to a theme of the work.
  3. Select the quotation that has the most profound effect on the reader (you again) and explain why.
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