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Atticus Finch

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Harper Lee’s extraordinary and original tale, To Kill a Mockingbird displays the difficulty and struggle of the community in Maycomb County through the eyes of a young girl named Jean Louise Finch. The main character, Atticus Finch plays an important role throughout the novel. His wisdom, words and actions help guide the town through the harsh times of prejudice and injustice. He demonstrates powerful leadership through his three different roles as a father, a lawyer and a noble citizen of the town. As a father, Atticus is a great leader in his own household. Not only does he teach his children verbally but he teaches them by setting a good example as a role-model. He accepts the challenging case of the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell as the lawyer of the defendant, Tom Robinson because he feels that he should take responsibility of ensuring that there is justice. He needs to make a good impression for his children by doing the right thing and being an ethical and honest man. Atticus has nothing to hide from his children and always provides answers to questions that are always asked of him. For example, when he is talking to Uncle Jack, he says, “When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production out of it.” (Lee, 87) Not only is he honest, but he is open minded and always takes into consideration both sides of a story. By doing this, he is making sure that he is being fair and not bias. For example, whenever Jean Louise and Jem argue, Atticus does not only listen to Jem’s side of the story, but he also hears Jean Louise’s version of it (86). Besides being a role-model to his children, he is setting an elite example in his town through his profession as a lawyer. Atticus is an achiever and never gives up, no matter what the challenge is. Even though he knows that his chances of success are minimal, he still tries his best to defend Tom Robinson in court. Atticus once told Jean Louise that, “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” (76) Atticus is a leader because he has his own thoughts and ideas and his decisions are not dependent on popular beliefs of the townspeople. He is not an idealist and he does not believe firmly in the integrity of the courts or the jury systems (205), for him, it is a living working reality. Atticus also shows incredible courage to stand up for what he believes in. During the night before the exhausting trial, he bravely stood up to several men in front of the jail to protect Tom Robinson from the men who appeared to be protesting. Atticus is a figure of a local hero in Maycomb. He is understanding and respects the differences and privacy of his neighbours. He explains to Jean Louise, “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.” (30) Jean Louise never really understood why Boo Radley wants to stay in his basement until she got the chance to stand on Radley’s front porch. Also, Ms. Dubose seemed to be a rude old lady, but Atticus admired her bravery; she had her own opinions and stuck to them. He also tells Jem to leave the Radley Family alone because they have the right to mind their own business without having people meddling in their affairs. Atticus believes that everyone including men, women, black or white people are equal and should be treated in the same manner. During his closing speech at the trial, he notes several stereotypes that claim that all black men are liars, dangerous and immoral beings. However, the truth is that the whole human race and not simply any particular race of men are dangerous and are liars. (204) Another example of this would be his exemplary shooting skills. He feels as though he has an unfair advantage over the other citizens and refuses to shoot unless he is required to shoot (98). Atticus’s leadership plays a pivotal role in the novel. He teaches his children important lessons, to understand human beings and set good examples. Through his profession, he illustrates strong determination and courage and in his town he demonstrates equality and respect. Through his leadership, people are now able to see past the prejudice and injustice of the town. In the end, one single noble man can make a great impact on everyone by simply believing in the right and the good.

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