To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Atticus Finch: [his closing statement] To begin with, this case should never have come to trial. The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place... It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses, whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant. Now, there is circumstantial evidence to indicate that Mayella Ewel was beaten - savagely, by someone who led exclusively with his left. And Tom Robinson now sits before you having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses... his RIGHT. I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the State. She is the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance. But my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man's life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own guilt. Now I say "guilt," gentlemen, because it was guilt that motivated her. She's committed no crime - she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with. She must destroy the evidence of her offense. But what was the evidence of her offense? Tom Robinson, a human being. She must put Tom Robinson away from her. Tom Robinson was to her a daily reminder of what she did. Now, what did she do? She tempted a Negro. She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that, in our society, is unspeakable. She kissed a black man. Not an old uncle, but a strong, young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards. The witnesses for the State, with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb County have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption... the evil assumption that all Negroes lie, all Negroes are basically immoral beings, all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women. An assumption that one associates with minds of their caliber, and which is, in itself, gentlemen, a lie, which I do not need to point out to you. And so, a quiet, humble, respectable Negro, who has had the unmitigated TEMERITY to feel sorry for a white woman, has had to put his word against TWO white people's! The defendant is not guilty - but somebody in this courtroom is. Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system - that's no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe... Tom Robinson.
Atticus Finch: If you just learn a single 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 inside of his skin and walk around in it.
Atticus Finch: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted - if I could hit 'em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Atticus Finch: Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corncrib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.
Rev. Sykes: Miss Jean Louise. Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing.
Older Scout: [narrating] 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 knife, and our lives.
Atticus Finch: I must be losing my memory. I can't remember whether Jem is twelve or thirteen. Anyway it'll have to come before the county court. Of course it's a clear cut case of self defense. I'll ahh, well I'll run down to the office...
Sheriff Tate: Mr. Finch do you think Jem stabbed Bob Ewell - is that what you think? Your boy never killed anyone.
[Atticus and Sheriff Heck Tate look at Boo]
Sheriff Tate: Bob Ewell fell on his knife - he killed himself. There's a black man dead for no reason; now the man responsible for it is dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. I never heard tell it was against the law for any citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did. But maybe you'll tell me it's my duty to tell the town all about it and not to hush it up. Well, you know what'll happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb, including my wife, will be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinking, taking the one man who's done you and this town a big service and dragging him with his shy ways into the limelight - to me that's a sin... it's a sin. And I'm not about to have it on my head. I may not be much Mr. Finch, but I'm still sheriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night, sir.
[Atticus on the porch overhearing their conversation]
Scout: How old was I when Mama died?
Scout: How old were you?
Scout: Old as I am now?
Scout: Was Mama pretty?
Scout: Was Mama nice?
Scout: Did you love her?
Scout: Did I love her?
Scout: Do you miss her?
Calpurnia: That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen.
Jem: Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white.
Scout: I said, 'Hey,' Mr. Cunningham. How's your entailment getting along?
[He turns and looks away]
Scout: Don't you remember me, Mr. Cunningham? I'm Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one early morning, remember? We had a talk. I went and got my daddy to come out and thank you. I go to school with your boy. I go to school with Walter; he's a nice boy. Tell him 'hey' for me, won't you? You know something, Mr. Cunningham, entailments are bad. Entailments...
[She suddenly becomes self-conscious]
Scout: Atticus, I was just saying to Mr. Cunningham that entailments were bad but not to worry. Takes a long time sometimes...
[to the men who are staring up at her]
Scout: What's the matter? I sure meant no harm, Mr. Cunningham.
Scout: May I see your watch? "To Atticus, My Beloved Husband." Atticus, Jem says this watch is gonna belong to him some day.
Atticus Finch: That's right.
Atticus Finch: Well, it's customary for the boy to have his father's watch.
Scout: What are you gonna give me?
Atticus Finch: Well, I don't know that I have much else of value that belongs to me... But there's a pearl necklace; there's a ring that belonged to your mother. And I've put them away, and they're to be yours.
Older Scout: [narrating] Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning; ladies bathed before noon, after their 3 o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go and nothing to buy... and no money to buy it with. Although Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself... That summer, I was six years old.
Miss Maudie Atkinson: He can do plenty of things... He can make somebody's will so airtight you can't break it. You count your blessings and stop complaining, both of you. Thank your stars he has the sense to act his age.
Miss Stephanie Crawford: There's a maniac lives there and he's dangerous... I was standing in my yard one day when his Mama come out yelling, 'He's killin' us all.' Turned out that Boo was sitting in the living room cutting up the paper for his scrapbook, and when his daddy come by, he reached over with his scissors, stabbed him in his leg, pulled them out, and went right on cutting the paper. They wanted to send him to an asylum, but his daddy said no Radley was going to any asylum. So they locked him up in the basement of the courthouse till he nearly died of the damp, and his daddy brought him back home. There he is to this day, sittin' over there with his scissors... Lord knows what he's doin' or thinkin'.
Bob Ewell: I'm real sorry they picked you to defend that nigger that raped my Mayella. I don't know why I didn't kill him myself instead of goin' to the sheriff. That would have saved you and the sheriff and the taxpayers lots of trouble...
Atticus Finch: Do you know what a compromise is?
Scout: Bendin' the law?
Atticus Finch: [slightly bemused] Uh, no. It's an agreement reached by mutual consent. Now, here's the way it works. You concede the necessity of goin' to school, we'll keep right on readin' the same every night, just as we always have. Is that a bargain?
Scout: Atticus, do you defend niggers?
Atticus Finch: [startled] Don't say 'nigger,' Scout.
Scout: I didn't say it... Cecil Jacobs did; that's why I had to fight him.
Atticus Finch: [sternly] Scout, I don't want you fightin'!
Scout: I had to, Atticus, he...
Atticus Finch: I don't care what the reasons are: I forbid you to fight.
Scout: Why there he is, Mr. Tate. He can tell you his name...
[Looks at the man]
Scout: Hey, Boo.
Atticus Finch: [making introductions] Miss Jean Louise, Mr. Arthur Radley. I believe he already knows you.
Older Scout: [narrating] I was to think of these days many times. Of Jem, and Dill, and Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson, and Atticus. He would be in Jem's room all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.
Scout: You can pet him, Mr. Arthur. He's asleep. Couldn't if he was awake, though; he wouldn't let you. Go ahead.
Dill Harris: Let's go down to the courthouse and see the room that they locked Boo up in. My aunt says it's bat-infested, and he nearly died from the mildew. Come on. I bet they got chains and instruments of torture down there.
Scout: Mr. Tate was right.
Atticus Finch: What do you mean?
Scout: Well, it would be sort of like shooting a mockingbird, wouldn't it?
Scout: Jem is up in a tree, he said he won't come down until you agree to play football with the Methodists.
Bob Ewell: You nigger lover.
Atticus Finch: [to Jem] No need to be afraid of him, son. He's all bluff.
[after they get home]
Atticus Finch: 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.
Jem: There goes the meanest man that ever took a breath of life.
Dill Harris: Why is he the meanest man?
Jem: Well, for one thing, he has a boy named Boo that he keeps chained to a bed in the house over yonder. Boo only comes out at night when you're asleep and it's pitch-dark. When you wake up at night, you can hear him. Once I heard him scratchin' on our screen door, but he was gone by the time Atticus got there.
Dill Harris: I wonder what he does in there? I wonder what he looks like?
Jem: Well, judgin' from his tracks, he's about six and a half feet tall. He eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch. There's a long, jagged scar that runs all the way across his face. His teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time.
Tom Robinson: Looks like she didn't have nobody to help her. I felt right sorry for her. She seemed...
Prosecutor: You felt sorry for her? A white woman? You felt sorry for her?
[to Dill about Miss Dubose]
Jem: Listen, no matter what she says to you, don't answer her back. There's a Confederate pistol in her lap under her shawl and she'll kill you quick as look at you. Come on.
Older Scout: [narrating] There just didn't seem to be anyone or anything Atticus couldn't explain. Though it wasn't a talent that would arouse the admiration of any of our friends, Jem and I had to admit he was very good at that - but that was *all* he was good at... we thought.
Atticus Finch: There are some things that you're not old enough to understand just yet. There's been some high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn't do much about defending this man.
Scout: If you shouldn't be defending him, then why are you doing it?
Atticus Finch: For a number of reasons. The main one is that if I didn't, I couldn't hold my head up in town. I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do somethin' again.
[he puts his arm around her]
Atticus Finch: You're gonna hear some ugly talk about this in school. But I want you to promise me one thing: That you won't get into fights over it, no matter what they say to you.
Older Scout: [narrating] One time Atticus said you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them; just standin' on the Radley porch was enough. The summer that had begun so long ago had ended, and another summer had taken its place, and a fall, and Boo Radley had come out.
Tom Robinson: I can't use my left hand at all. I got it caught in a cotton gin when I was twelve years old. All my muscles were tore loose.
Atticus Finch: Good Afternoon Miss Dubose... My, you look like a picture this afternoon.
Scout: [hiding behind Atticus whispering to Jem and Dill] He don't say a picture of what.
Miss Maudie Atkinson: Jem.
Jem: Yes, ma'am?
Miss Maudie Atkinson: I don't know if it will help saying this to you... some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us... your father is one of them.
Jem: Oh, well.
Atticus Finch: Did you rape Mayella Ewell?
Tom Robinson: I did not, sir.
Atticus Finch: Did you harm her in any way?
Tom Robinson: I did not.
Older Scout: [narrating] Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fightin' any more. 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. I soon forgot... Cecil Jacobs *made* me forget.
Older Scout: [narrating] By October, things had settled down again. I still looked for Boo every time I went by the Radley place. This night my mind was filled with Halloween - there was to be a pageant representing our county's agricultural products; I was to be a ham. Jem said he would escort me to the school auditorium. Thus began our longest journey together.
Mayella Ewell: I got somethin' to say. And then I ain't gonna say no more. He took advantage of me. An' if you fine, fancy gentlemen ain't gonna do nothin' about it, then you're just a bunch of lousy, yella, stinkin' cowards, the - the whole bunch of ya, and your fancy airs don't come to nothin'. Your Ma'am'in' and your Miss Mayellarin' - it don't come to nothin', Mr. Finch, not... no.
Dill Harris: Hey.
Jem: Hey yourself.
Dill Harris: I'm Charles Baker Harris. I can read. I can read anything you've got.
[swinging on the gate]
Dill Harris: Folks call me Dill.
Jem: How old are you? Four and a half?
Dill Harris: Going on seven.
Jem: Well, no wonder then. Scout's been readin' since she was born, and she's not even six yet. You're mighty puny for nearly seven.
Dill Harris: I'm little but I'm old.
Sheriff Heck Tate: Didn't you know your daddy's the best shot in this county?
Mayella Ewell: I was sittin' on the porch, and he come along. Uh, there's this old chifforobe in the yard, and I-I said, 'You come in here, boy, and bust up this chifforobe, and I'll give you a nickel.' So he-he come on in the yard and I go in the house to get him the nickel and I turn around, and 'fore I know it, he's on me, and I fought and hollered, but he had me around the neck, and he hit me again and again, and the next thing I knew, Papa was in the room, a-standin' over me, hollerin', 'Who done it, who done it?'
Tom Robinson: Well, I said I best be goin', I couldn't do nothin' for her, an' she said, oh, yes I could. An' I asked her what, and she said to jus' step on the chair yonder an' git that box down from on top of the chifforobe. So I done like she told me, and I was reachin' when the next thing I know she... grabbed me aroun' the legs.
[a murmur erupts in the courthouse]
Tom Robinson: She scared me so bad I hopped down an' turned the chair over. That was the only thing, only furniture 'sturbed in the room, Mr. Finch, I swear, when I left it... Mr. Finch, I got down off the chair, and I turned around an' she sorta jumped on me. She hugged me aroun' the waist. She reached up an' kissed me on the face. She said she'd never kissed a grown man before an' she might as well kiss me. She says for me to kiss her back.
[Tom shakes his head, re-living the ordeal with his eyes half-closed]
Tom Robinson: And I said, Miss Mayella, let me outta here, an' I tried to run. Mr. Ewell cussed at her from the window and said he's gonna kill her.