The young Scout Finch, from "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee, is one of American literature's most iconic and unforgettable fictional characters. The book deals with issues of racial injustice and gender roles in the American South. The book was largely based on Lee's own childhood, growing up in Monroeville, Alabama, during the Great Depression. Published at the start of the civil rights movement, the book called for tolerance and condemned the treatment of African-Americans in the South. Through its tomboy narrator, the author discusses the frustrations of living within strict female gender roles.
On Being a Girl
“Calpurnia seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.”
“Aunt Alexandra said that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.”
“I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that's why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with.”
“I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life, I thought of running away. Immediately.”
On Boo Radley
"Then I saw the shadow. It was the shadow of a man with a hat on. At first, I thought it was a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree trunks never walked. The back porch was bathed in moonlight, and the shadow, crisp, and toast moved across the porch towards Jem." (They think the shadow is Boo Radley, whom they've been taught to fear.)
"The sixth grade seemed to please him from the beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me-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 we be today if they hadn't? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts."
“Pass the damn ham, please.” (said during Scout's attempt to try and get out of going to school)
“Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting anymore; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be.”
“After my bout with Cecil Jacobs when I committed myself to a policy of cowardice, word got around that Scout Finch wouldn't fight anymore, her daddy wouldn't let her. This was not entirely correct: I wouldn't fight publicly for Atticus, but the family was private ground. I would fight anyone from a third cousin upwards tooth and nail. Francis Hancock, for example, knew that.”
On White Lies
“I said I would like it very much, which was a lie, but one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them.” (on Aunt Alexandra moving in)
“With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.”
"I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."