Atticus Finch: Father, Leader, Man
A deeply prejudiced society needs a person willing to fight against the norm to begin to exact fairness. In the transition to a more equal society following the Civil War, white people in the South resisted the end of the hierarchy that had existed between the whites and the blacks. The novel To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama where racism features prominently in daily lifestyle. Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the town, decides to take up a case where a black man, Tom Robinson, stands accused of raping a white woman. This unprecedented action causes controversy in Maycomb because it disrupts the caste system. In her novel, Harper Lee uses the characterization of Atticus Finch to show that a dynamic figure whose status as a leader in both his community and his family along with his strong personal beliefs is necessary to help better his misguided community. In the novel, Atticus serves as a father figure to his children by teaching them important moral values and by treating them in a straightforward fashion. After her first grade teacher, Miss Caroline, reprimands her for knowing too much about reading, Scout tells Atticus she wants to quit school. Atticus responds to her, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (pg. 39) Atticus tries to help Jem and Scout understand the importance of perspective. When Atticus takes Tom Robinson’s case, he warns his children that the other kids might harass them at school, but he urges them to take the moral high ground. He advises Scout that she should simply “Just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anyone says to you, don’t let ‘em get your goat.” (pg. 101) Atticus believes in teaching his children that if a person acts in accordance with what he considers the right thing to do, the opinions of...
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