I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.... Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Harper Lee (b. 1926), U.S. novelist. To Kill a Mockingbird, ch. 10 (1960).
Atticus Finch, the Southern Alabama father and hero of this novel, instructs his teenage son when he gets his first air-rifle. The section following the ellipsis is an explanation of these instructions by Miss Maudie Atkinson, a neighbor.