Chapter 1 Allusions



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TKAM Allusions and Idioms

  • Chapter 1 Allusions

  • "I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it had really begun with Andrew Jackson." Andrew Jackson: 7th President of the United States (1829-1837).

  • "Being southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings ." Battle of Hastings: a decisive battle in the Norman Conquests of England in 1066. Battle of Hastings: a decisive battle in the Norman Conquests of England in 1066.

  • "All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trading apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess." Cornwall: a country at the southwest tip of England.

  • "...he worked his way across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, thence to Jamaica, thence to Mobile...." Philadelphia: a city in southeast Pennsylvania. Jamaica: an island country in the West Indies, south of Cuba. Mobile: a city in southwest Alabama.

  • "Mindful of John Wesley's strictures..." John Wesley: (1702-1791) Founder of the Methodist Church.

  • Simon would have regarded with impotent fury the disturbance between the North and the South...." disturbance between the North and the South: The Civil War (1861-1865)

  • "There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy, and no money to buy it with...." no money to buy it with: an allusion to the Great Depression.

  • "Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself" nothing to fear but fear itself: an allusion to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first Inaugural Address.

  • "Dill was from Meridian, Mississippi..." Meridian, Mississippi: Meridian is a city in east Mississippi.

  • "Dill had seen Dracula." Dracula: the 1931 film version of the famous vampire story.

  • "Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin..." Merlin: King Arthur's adviser, prophet and magician.

  • "...they experimented with stumphole whiskey ." stumphole whiskey: illegally made and sold whiskey that would be hidden in the holes of tree stumps.

  • "...the boys backed around the square in a borrowed flivver...." flivver: another name for a Model-T Ford.

  • "...it was suggested that a season in Tuscaloosa might be helpful to Boo " Tuscaloosa: a city in central Alabama.

  • “...Boo's elder brother returned from Pensacola..." Pensacola: a city in northwest Florida.

  • Chapter 2 Allusions

  • "When Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, Winston County seceded from Alabama..." Union: one side in the Civil War (the North)

  • "...reading was just something that just to came me, as learning to fasten the seat of my union suit without looking around..." union suit: a one-piece garment of underwear with a buttoned flap in the back.

  • " 'He read in a book where I was a Bullfinch instead of a Finch .' " Bullfinch: an allusion to Bulfinch's Mythology, a famous collection of Greek myths. Jem is kidding, of course, but his reference to Bullfinch's Mythology is another indication of how much of a reader Scout has always been.

  • "...the diaries of Lorenzo Dow..." diaries of Lorenzo Dow: Lorenzo Dow (1777 - 1834) was a Methodist preacher who traveled throughout the country, including the state of Alabama.

  • " 'It's the Dewey Decimal System ." Dewey Decimal System: A system for organizing books in libraries devised by Melvil Dewey. Contrary to what Jem tells Scout, this Dewey has nothing to do with John Dewey, a theorist of progressive education.

  • " 'Here's a quarter,' she said to Walter. 'Go and eat downtown today '." Here's a quarter: If a quarter doesn't seem like enough, remember that, during this portion of the Great Depression, a nickel bought a loaf of bread, a movie was a dime, and gasoline could be had for sixteen cents a gallon

  • " 'Not exactly. The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest.' " the crash: the Stock Market Crash of 1929 which led to the Great Depression.

  • Chapter 3 Allusions

  • "...a man who sat on a flagpole for no discernible reason." man who sat on a flagpole: Flagpole sitting was one of the stranger fads of the 1930s.

  • Chapter 4 Allusions

  • " 'Indian-heads,' he said." Indian-heads: Before the Lincoln penny, there were Indian-head pennies.

  • "...we were so busy playing Chapter XXV, Book II of One Man's Family..."One Man's Family: a radio serial (like a soap opera) which began in 1932 and proved to be enormously popular for almost thirty years. By acting out their version of the Radley story, the children are playing in their own version of the drama.

  • Chapter 5 Allusions/Idioms

  • "If she found a blade of nut grass in her yard it was like the Second Battle of the Marne " Second Battle of the Marne: a battle in World War I.

  • Miss Maudie's face likened such an occurrence unto an Old Testament pestilence ." Old Testament pestilence: Pestilence refers to a condition or disease that causes massive damage or death. One example of pestilence in the Old Testament of the Bible is a plague of locusts, such as the one described in Exodus 10.

  • acid tongue in her head: Acid is very bitter in taste. Someone with an acid tongue is someone who tends to speak bitterly or sharply.

  • get Miss Maudie's goat: To get one's goat is to make a person disgusted or angry.



  • Chapter 7 Allusions/Idioms

  • "He declared Egyptians walked that way..."Egyptians walked that way: Jem's assumptions as to how Egyptians would have walked is probably based on pictures of Egyptian art.

  • walked on eggs: To walk on eggs is to walk very carefully

  • Chapter 8 Allusions/Idioms

  • “Mr. Avery said it was written on the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents...the seasons would change ." Rosetta Stone: Discovered in Egypt in 1799, the Rosetta Stone is a large block of basalt inscribed with a report of a decree passed in 196 BC. Written in three languages, the stone gave historians many clues as to the meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

  • " 'Hasn't snowed in Maycomb since Appomattox .' " Appomattox: a former village in central Virginia. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House, ending the Civil War.

  • Those Bellingraths'll look plain puny when I get started .' " Bellingraths: Miss Maudie is referring to Walter and Bessie Bellingrath who, in 1932, opened their large, beautiful gardens to the public. The Bellingrath Gardens are located in Mobile, Alabama.

  • "'I'll make him a Lane cake .' " Lane cake: a rich white cake.

  • Chapter 9 Allusions/Idioms

  • "Cousin Ike was Maycomb County's sole surviving Confederate veteran. He wore a General Hood type beard of which he was inordinately vain (p. 80)." Confederate veteran: a veteran of the Civil War who fought for the South. General Hood: Lieutenant-General John B. Hood, a Confederate officer

  • "The Missouri Compromise was what licked us..." Missouri Compromise : The Missouri Compromise (1820) allowed Missouri to be admitted to the Union as a slave state but stipulated no more slave states would be allowed above the southern border of Missouri.

  • " '...now in 1864, when Stonewall Jackson came around by -I beg your pardon, young folks. Ol' Blue Light was in heaven then, God rest his saintly brow...' " Stonewall Jackson: a Confederate lieutenant-general. Ol' Blue Light: a reference to Stonewall Jackson.

  • "Aunt Alexandra would have been analogous to Mount Everest..." Mount Everest: The highest known mountain in the world (29,028 feet), Everest is part of the Himalayas, on the border of Nepal and Tibet.

  • "Uncle Jack plunged into another long tale about an old Prime Minister who sat in the House of Commons and blew feathers in the air..." Prime Minister: the head of a parliamentary government, such as Great Britain's. House of Commons: the lower branch of the legislature in Great Britain

  • " 'No, I told her about Lord Melbourne ' " Lord Melbourne: (1779-1848) Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, Melbourne also had the reputation for being something of a ladies' man.

  • " 'Let the cup pass from you' " Let the cup pass from you: On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Lord: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done [Luke 22:42]." By asking the Lord to "take this cup from me" he was praying that he might avoid his fate (in Greek, one of the figurative meanings for "cup" is "fate"). Uncle Jack's comment to Atticus calls upon this reference because he understands that his brother was not looking forward to his fate: having to defend Tom Robinson.

  • As sure as eggs: Something that is as sure as eggs is a sure thing; it's bound to happen; just as chickens are sure to lay eggs.

  • bowed to the inevitable: An event or occurrence that is inevitable is one that cannot be stopped from occurring. To bow to the inevitable is to realize this fact and resist fighting it. Atticus realizes that, sooner or later, Scout and Jem would be given guns and be taught how to shoot, so he doesn't try to fight it.

  • drew a bead on him: To draw a bead on someone is to aim at or focus on that person.

  • on tenterhooks: To be on tenterhooks is to be filed with suspense or anxiety.

  • set my teeth permanently on edge: To set one's teeth on edge is to annoy someone or make them feel nervous the way in which Aunt Alexandra tends to annoy Scout

  • Chapter 10 Allusions/Idioms

  • " '...but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird,' " mockingbird: a North American bird known for its vocal imitations

  • break camp: pack up; move on. In Scout's case, Atticus is telling her to put her gun away and quit her game.

  • tooth and nail: To fight someone tooth and nail is to fight that person as fiercely as possible (literally with teeth and fingernails if necessary).

  • tribal curse: a family curse or, more aptly, an affliction shared by members of a family. Apparently, many members of the Finch family have had problems with their left eyes.

  • Chapter 11 Allusions/Idioms

  • "It was rumored that she kept a CSA pistol concealed among her numerous shawls and wraps." CSA: Confederate States of America - the Southern side of the Civil War.

  • "I picked up a football magazine, found a picture of Dixie Howell..." Sir Walter Scott: author of Ivanhoe .

  • "...when his only son stood an excellent chance of being murdered with a Confederate Army relic."

  • "Jem, armed with Ivanhoe and full of superior knowledge... Ivanhoe: a novel written in 1819 by Sir Walter Scott set in the Middle Ages during the time of the Crusades. "...when Sir Walter Scott became involved in lengthy descriptions of moats and castles..." Sir Walter Scott: author of Ivanhoe .

  • 'druthers: a contraction of the phrase "I'd rather." Your 'druthers is your choice or preference; it's what you'd rather do or have.

  • slow fuse: A person with a slow fuse is someone who is not easily upset or angered.

  • stood as much guff: Guff is foolish or brash talk. Jem has had enough of all the foolish, rude talk about Atticus.

  • when the chips are down: at the most important time. [In gambling games, a person puts chips or money down in front of him to show that he is willing to risk an amount in a bet.]

  • Chapter 12 Allusions/Idioms

  • "...there were sit-down strikes in Birmingham; bread lines in the cities grew longer..." sit-down strikes: During the Great Depression, sit-down strikes became a real force in labor relations in the United States. Unlike "regular" strikes, workers in a sit-down strike would literally "sit down on the job;" that is, they would refuse to leave the building until their demands were met. One of the most famous sit-down strikes of this era was the Flint sit-down strike at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. bread lines: During the Great Depression, thousands of people relied on charitable organizations for meals and would line up for simple meals often of bread and soup.

  • "...Eunice Ann saying she didn't want to play Shadrach any more..." Shadrach: One of the three men whom King Nebuchadnezzar threw into a blazing furnace, as told in Daniel 3 of the Bible. Because of their faith in God, all three men escaped unharmed.

  • "...she stuck my head in the basin and washed it with Octagon soap and castile." Octagon soap: a very harsh, strong soap. castile: a type of soap, originally made in Spain.

  • "...Hearts of Love hairdressing mingled with asafoetida, snuff, Hoyt's Cologne, Brown's Mule, peppermint, and lilac talcum." Hoyt's Cologne: a strong, lasting cologne, originally made in Germany and popular during the first part of the 20th century. Brown's Mule: a brand of chewing tobacco. See an original advertising display of Brown's Mule.

  • "...a rotogravure print of Hunt's The Light of the World ." Hunt's The Light of the World : a well-known painting of Jesus Christ.

  • "At each seat was a cheap cardboard fan bearing a garish Garden of Gethsemane.." Garden of Gethsemane: the place where Jesus went to pray on the night before his crucifixion.

  • "Bootleggers caused enough trouble in the Quarter..." Bootleggers: people who make and/or sell illegal liquor.

  • " 'Blackstone's Commentaries.' " Blackstone's Commentaries : One of the most important books ever written on British law.

  • to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state: Barnacles are a form of shellfish that attach themselves to stationery items such as ships that have been standing still in the water for a long time. In order to maintain a boat or a ship, the barnacles must be scraped off. The ship of state, in this case, refers to the state government. The governor is saying that it is necessary to maintain and update (scrape a few barnacles off) the workings of the government (the ship of state).

  • Chapter 13 Allusions/Idioms

  • "...she did not permit Calpurnia to make the delicacies required to sustain the Society through long reports on Rice Christians..." Rice Christians: Christian converts from third-world nations, especially those in parts of Asia.

  • "Although Maycomb was ignored during the War Between the States, Reconstruction rule and economic ruin forced the town to grow."War Between the States: the Civil War. Reconstruction: the period of time, roughly between 1867-1877, when the Southern states were reorganized and reestablished after the Civil War.

  • "...if Mrs. Grace Merriweather sips gin out of Lydia E. Pinkham bottles it's nothing unusual..." Lydia E. Pinkham: a maker and manufacturer of patent medicines in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Most of Pinkham's medical concoctions were aimed at women, and the majority of them contained liberal amounts of alcohol.

  • traveled in state: To travel in state is to do so in the position of a person of great wealth and rank.

  • Chapter 15 Allusions/Idioms

  • "...the Maycomb jail was a miniature Gothic joke one cell wide and two cells high, complete with tiny battlements and flying buttressess (p. 152)." Gothic: a style of architecture developed in Western Europe between the 12th and 16th century. An excellent example of the Gothic style is Notre Dame Cathedral in France.

  • battlement: a low wall with open spaces built on top of a castle wall or fort. flying buttressess: a buttress (support) connected to a building by an arch.EX: Chartres Cathedral in France.

  • "...we were under the shelter of the Jitney Jungle door." Jitney Jungle: a supermarket chain. Supermarkets were still relatively new to America in the 1930s. Most shoppers did business at smaller grocery stores.

  • " 'Called 'em off on a snipe hunt,' was the succinct answer." snipe hunt: a practical joke. The "victim" is taken on a hunt deep into a forest at night and told to look for and capture "snipes," small, flightless birds that, in actuality, don't exist. While the hunter searches, the rest of the party leaves.

  • he had seen the light: In this case to have seen the light means to have become religious.

  • Chapter 16 Allusions/Idioms

  • "...whose father in a fey fit of humor christened Braxton Bragg..." Braxton Bragg: The commander of the Western Confederate Army during the Civil War, Bragg led a less-than-distinguished career in the military, and his army unit was eventually defeated.

  • "...Mr. Tensaw Jones voted the straight Prohibition ticket..." straight Prohibition ticket: Prohibition was a period in U.S. history (1920-1933) when the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was against the law. By voting the straight Prohibition ticket, Mr. Jones always votes for those political candidates who support Prohibition and were likely members of the Prohibition Party.

  • " 'Look at all those folks -- you'd think William Jennings Bryan was speakin'.' " William Jennings Bryan: (1860-1925) Bryan was a lawyer, a politician (he ran for the Presidency three times), and a famous orator. His speeches were major events, especially in the South and along the Bible Belt, and would draw huge crowds

  • " '...but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin' the Old Testament.' " Ethiopia: During the time of the Old Testament, Ethiopia was a kingdom in Northeast Africa. Today, Ethiopia is a country in Eastern Africa.

  • "From the other side, however, Greek revival columns clashed with a big nineteenth-century clock..." Greek revival columns: a form of architectural columns.

  • blind spots: a prejudice or area of ignorance that someone has but is unaware of. Mr. Cunningham's blind spot is his prejudice against Tom Robinson.

  • Chapter 17 Allusions/Idioms

  • "...with four tiny rooms opening onto a shotgun hall...” shotgun hall: A hallway that leads directly from the front door to the back door.

  • "...containing the remains of a Model-T Ford (on blocks), a discarded dentist's chair, an ancient icebox...” Model-T Ford (on blocks): The Model-T (also known as a "tin Lizzie" or a "flivver") was Henry Ford's first popular success. Originally produced in 1909, it was affordable and relatively reliable. A car is put up on blocks for two main reasons: either it no longer has any tires, or the owner can't afford to drive it and putting it on blocks saves the tires from the damage caused by having to carry the weight of the car. icebox: Before refrigerators, people used iceboxes, large wood cabinets kept cold on the inside by blocks of ice that would be delivered to the home.

  • "...then reached into his vest pocket and unclipped his fountain pen ." fountain pen: a pen with a special nib at the end that allowed the pen to be refilled with ink from a bottle.

  • counting his chickens: Scout is referring to the first half of the proverb: "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, " which means "don't be too sure that something will happen before it does." Although Jem seems to be certain that Atticus has won his case, Scout thinks he is counting his chickens, that is, he is too sure of something that may not happen.

  • guests of the county: on public assistance or welfare

  • Chapter 18 Allusions/Idioms

  • "Mayella sounded like a Mr. Jingle in a book I had been reading." Mr. Jingle: A character in Charles Dicken's novel The Pickwick Papers, Mr. Jingle usually expresses himself in sentence fragments.

  • " 'He got it caught in a cotton gin...' "cotton gin: a machine used to separate seed and other debris from cotton.

  • took advantage of me: In this instance, the phrase to take advantage of means to have sexual intercourse with.

  • Chapter 19 Idioms

  • looked daggers: A dagger is a type of knife. To look daggers at someone is to look sharply at that person.

  • Chapter 20 Allusions/Idioms

  • " 'Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the Yankee and the distaff side of the Executive branch in Washington are fond of hurling at us.' " Thomas Jefferson: 3rd President of the United States (1801-1809) and author of The Declaration of Independence. all men are created equal: A phrase from The Declaration of Independence. distaff side of the Executive branch: a reference to Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (the Executive branch is the President, and distaff, in this case, means wife). Eleanor Roosevelt often came in for much criticism, especially in the South, for her views on civil rights.

  • " '...there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, and a stupid man the equal of an Einstein.' " Rockefeller: John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), one of the richest men in America at the time. Einstein: Albert Einstein (1979-1955), German-born physicist.

  • Chapter 22 Idioms

  • give the lie: To give the lie to something is to prove that thing to be false or untrue. Scout is saying that the way in which Miss Stephanie and Miss Rachel are acting proves that Dill's statements about them are not untrue.

  • runner: chicken leg

  • Chapter 24 Allusions/Idioms

  • " 'People up there set 'em free...' " People up there set 'em free: in other words: the Northerners are responsible for the fact that the slaves were freed

  • " 'I think that woman, that Mrs. Roosevelt's lost her mind-just plain lost her mind coming down to Birmingham and tryin' to sit with 'em...' " Mrs. Roosevelt: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Birmingham: a city in Central Alabama. tryin' to sit with 'em: in 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt attended a meeting for the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama where she defied state authorities by sitting in the center aisle, between whites and blacks, after police told her she was violating segregation laws by sitting with black people.

  • blue in the face: angry and upset; excited and emotional

  • fighting the good fight: In the case of the ladies of the missionary circle, the good fight would be their work to aid missionaries around the world in their cause of converting people to Christianity.

  • their time came: Although this could be a reference to childbirth, it is more likely a reference to a woman's menstrual cycle.

  • wool: Mrs. Merriweather is referring to her maid's head or, more specifically, her hair. "It's never entered that wool of hers" is Mrs. Merriweather's way of saying, "It's never entered that head of hers."

  • Chapter 25 Allusions

  • “Maycomb had lost no time in getting Mr. Ewell's views on Tom's demise and passing them along through that English Channel of gossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford." English Channel: The English Channel is the waterway that separates Great Britain from France. It is also the avenue by which much trade is carried on between Great Britain and the European continent. According to Scout, Miss Stephanie is the avenue of gossip for much of Maycomb.

  • Chapter 26 Allusions

  • "...being a holy-roller...” holy-roller: a member of a small religious sect that expresses devotion by shouting and moving around during worship services.

  • "Little Chuck Little...was halfway through an Uncle Natchell Story when Miss Gates stopped him..." Uncle Natchell Story: Uncle Natchell (along with his sidekick, Sonny Boy) was the cartoon mascot for a fertilizer product called Natural Chilean Nitrate of Soda. Many of the advertisements for this product were in comic strip or story form. Little Chuck Little has mistaken one of these advertising "stories" for an actual current event.

  • " 'Adolf Hitler, Cecil,' said Miss Gates (p. 247)." Adolf Hitler: (1889-1945) Nazi dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945.

  • " '...Adolf Hitler has been after all the Jews...' " Adolf Hitler has been after all the Jews: a reference to the Nazi anti-Jewish policy.

  • "The only time I ever saw Atticus scowl was when Elmer Davis would give us the latest on Hitler (p. 248)." Elmer Davis: a journalist and CBS radio commentator who went on to head the Office of War Information.

  • Chapter 27 Allusions

  • "...he was the only man I ever heard of who was fired from the WPA for laziness." WPA: During the Great Depression, when millions of Americans were out of work, the government instituted the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and employed over eight million people.

  • "...churchtime found him holed up in his study reading the writings of Bob Taylor..." Bob Taylor: Robert Love Taylor, late 19th Century orator and politician.

  • " '...I'll get you in on the Ladies' Law...' " Ladies' Law: From the Criminal Code of Alabama, Vol. III, 1907: "Any person who enters into, or goes sufficiently near to the dwelling house of another, and, in the presence or hearing of the family of the occupant thereof, or any member of his family, or any person who, in the presence or hearing of any girl or woman, uses abusive, insulting or obscene language must, on conviction, be fined not more than two hundred dollars, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than six months."

  • " 'You tell Cecil I'm about as radical as Cotton Tom Heflin. ' " Cotton Tom Heflin: J. Thomas "Cotton Tom" Heflin was an orator and Republican politician. Heflin was Alabama Secretary of State and served in the U.S. Congress (1905-1920) and the Senate (1921-1931). Heflin's political support was drawn chiefly from rural voters and members of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • "Firstly, people had removed from their store windows and automobiles the stickers that said NRA-WE DO OUR PART. I asked Atticus why, and he said it was because the National Recovery Act was dead. I asked who killed it; he said nine old men." NRA-WE DO OUR PART: the motto of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). National Recovery Act: better known as the National Recovery Administration or the NRA. The NRA was a series of programs set up to help the nation, especially the nation's businesses, recover from the effects of the Great Depression. It was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1935. nine old men: the members of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional in 1935.

  • "...an ear trumpet so enormous that Jem declared it was a loudspeaker from one of those dog Victrolas." dog Victrolas: a reference to the advertising symbol of RCA/Victor; a dog, known as "Nipper," looking into the horn of a gramophone or Victrola

  • " 'Da-rk they were,' she said. 'Syrians.' " Syrians: People from Syria, a country at the northwest part of the Mediterranean region, south of Turkey.

  • "Mrs. Grace Merriweather had composed an original pageant entitled Maycomb County: Ad Astra Per Aspera." Ad Astra Per Aspera: Latin for "To the stars through difficulties"

Chapter 28 Allusions

  • "Adults in homemade three-corner hats, confederate caps, Spanish-American War hats, and World War helmets." three-corner hats, confederate caps, Spanish-American War hats, and World War helmets: all references to the headgear of various soldiers from different wars.

Chapter 30 Idioms

  • into the limelight: In the theater, the limelight is an intense spot light that highlights a main actor, etc. When lights were first used, the color actually casted a greenish tint on the actor. To be in the limelight is to be put in a prominent position before the public.



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