Celebrated novelist Harper Lee has passed away at 89, and though she has only written two books in her lifetime — To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman — the powerful works continue to stand the test of time. In memory of Harper, we took a look at her most impactful quotes from her novels that touched on race, religion, and most importantly, humanity.
To Kill a Mockingbird
- "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."
- "Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
- "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
- "Things are always better in the morning."
- "Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hands of another."
- "No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change."
- "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."
- "I think there's just one kind of folks: folks."
- "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."
- "Things are never as bad as they seem."
Go Set a Watchman
- "Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends."
- "Every man's island, Jean Louise, every man's watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious."
- "[T]he time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise. They don't need you when they're right."
- "A man can condemn his enemies, but it's wiser to know them."
- "Love's the only thing in this world that is unequivocal."
- "Sometimes we have to kill a little so we can live."
- "Recorded history's version does not coincide with the truth, but these are the facts, because they were passed down by word of mouth through the years, and every Maycombian knows them."
- "I guess when you're hurt your first instinct's to hurt back."
- "It's grown people who always believe the worst."
- "They fought to preserve their identity. Their political identity, their personal identity."
- "That's what everybody wants to do when they love like that. They want to get married, they want to kiss and hug and carry on and have babies all the time."