To Kill a Mockingbird-Atticus' Influences

Topics: Black people, To Kill a Mockingbird, White people Pages: 11 (2076 words) Published: December 9, 2012
Bruce Cockburn, a well known Canadian jazz and folk artist, sang in “Lovers in a

Dangerous Time” that one should “Keep kicking at the darkness ‘till it bleeds daylight”. This

statement vividly outlines the determination needed to preserver through a tough situation and

come out on the upside. When faced with a challenge that seems unbearable, one must remember

that this effort will eventually turn into an accomplishment that they can be proud of. In Harper

Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, the importance of Atticus Finch’s character is to influence the way

the community and his children view racism. Atticus tries to change his children’s opinions and

actions throughout the story by leading by example and discussing and explaining equal rights

and prejudice with them. Likewise, he shows the black community that trust and goodness can

be found in a white man, by defending Tom Robinson to his utmost ability at the trial. Finally,

Atticus begins, through his many efforts and failures, to change some of the white community’s

mind about how they view racism and treat others. Atticus’ actions throughout the novel,

standing up for black rights, and the fight against racism throughout the Trial, is a step towards

trying to change people’s views on equality, and more largely, reinforces his influential role and

effect in breaking down racial barriers in the community.

Atticus has two children, Jem and Scout, they are immersed in racism and hatred

towards others from a young age. Atticus tries to show his children through example and

explanations that they should not get involved with discrimination because it is evil and

unfair. To begin with, through various attempts to make Boo(Arthur) Radley come out, the kids

prove to be discriminating, even though it seems innocent. Atticus catches them and helps them

realize how wrong what they are doing actually is. Atticus and Jem argued about what they were

doing to Arthur:

Jem, Scout and Dill were outside the Radley household trying to give Arthur a
note telling him to come outside and meet them. Atticus finds them doing this and
tells them that what Mr.Radley does is his own business, not that of others in the
community. Jem counters, stating they just wanted to meet him and that it was
harmless. Atticus then explains that they are “putting his life’s history on display
for the edification of the neighborhood”. He tells them that they must stop
tormenting the man. (Lee 64-65)

Atticus begins to show the children what they are doing wrong, how they need to begin to treat

Arthur with more respect, no matter what he chooses to reveal about himself or his life. The

reader is now shown, though subtly, that the kids are being influenced by the town’s outlook on

certain things and people. They are led to believe it is acceptable to be prejudice against others.

Secondly, Scout is confused about why Miss.Caroline is mad that she can read. She doesn’t

grasp why people act in a deprecating way. Atticus tries to explain by saying “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” (Lee 39). Atticus shows his deep understanding of the way people

think in this quote, one now builds on the knowledge of him being able to change the ways and

thoughts of others. He makes Scout realize that people may seem evil or they may be

discriminative, but you have to always take into account what they are going through in their life

to truly be able to judge them fairly. Lastly, the trial has a large impact on the finalization of the

kids comprehension of the way they must treat others with respect and dignity. Through all

Atticus’ teachings and the turnout of the trial, coupled with the town’s reaction, Jem learns that

not everyone in the world is nice. He displays...
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