I have a question in another sentence of the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird".

The sentence is in the paragraph below.

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. All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trapping apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess. In England, Simon was irritated by the persecution of those who called themselves Methodists at the hands of their more liberal brethren, and as Simon called himself a Methodist, he worked his way across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, thence to Jamaica, thence to Mobile, and up the Saint Stephens. Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practicing medicine, but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel. So Simon, having forgotten his teacher’s dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens. He returned to Saint Stephens only once, to find a wife, and with her established a line that ran high to daughters. Simon lived to an impressive age and died rich.

Which meaning of the word "line" is used in the sentence "and with her established a line that ran high to daughters"?

Does "ran high to daughters" mean "gave birth to many daughters"?


Thanks a lot for everyone's help. I really appreciate it.

  • 5
    Yes. A line in this context means a line of descendants. Whilst ran high to daughters is an unusual-sounding expression to my ears, I must assume it means produced many daughters - and some but only a few sons.
    – WS2
    Jan 24, 2016 at 9:39
  • 1
    I must congratulate you for taking on such an ambitious task as reading Harper Lee. Oh that I could even contemplate reading any text in Chinese! If you need further help, do not hesitate to ask.
    – WS2
    Jan 24, 2016 at 9:56

2 Answers 2


Line is a line of descendents, and "run high" is an idiom based on a river "running high," meaning with more water than usual (i.e. a higher, and probably more dangerous water line). It's much more typically used for intense emotions (as in the phrase "tempers were running high at the Iowa caucus") but in this case it means an overabundance of daughters --more, perhaps, than Simon (or his descendents) would have voluntarily chosen.

  • Hello Dear Mr. Sunami, thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it. Feb 6, 2016 at 1:50

The noun line in your context means:

A connected series of people following one another in time (used especially of several generations of a family): 'Expert practitioners in Japan can trace their family lines back through 43 generations of Ikenobo masters'.

And it could be replaced with family line, bloodline or family tree

Bloodline means:

A set of ancestors or line of descent of an important person.

Your sentence in the context could be rephrased to:

He returned to Saint Stephens only once, to find a wife, and with her established a family (blood) line that had many daughters...

The below picture is a family line and if you have many daughters or sons, you would have a high or long line.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

enter image description here

  • Dear Sir, thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it. Jan 24, 2016 at 12:21
  • 1
    @LiXiaodong My pleasure. We don't use sir in this community unless we use it for a joke. We are all friends and users. You don't have to sir me. (You don't have to call me sir :-). Since you have more than 15 reputation points, you can upvote any questions or answers which you think are helpful to you. Please don't hesitate to upvote those questions and answers. That's the way of appreciating other users' answers and questions. You can downvote when you have more than 125 rep points. Good luck. :-)
    – user140086
    Jan 24, 2016 at 12:28
  • @Rathony Why would having daughters make the line any longer or higher than if you had sons?
    – WS2
    Jan 24, 2016 at 13:31
  • @WS2 I didn't mean that way. I just quoted the book. I will edit my post.
    – user140086
    Jan 24, 2016 at 13:31
  • I think you're right on for "bloodline" but I don't buy the explanation of "high line." Feb 5, 2016 at 21:43

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