Atticus Finch as a Moral Character

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Throughout literature, there are numerous examples of characters who serve to reinforce moral values of both other characters, and the reader. These characters consistently choose to do the “right” thing in the face of severe adversity. For example, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan man goes against all societal values to help the Jew after he had been left for dead by muggers. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch serves as a shining beacon of morality in the face of the prejudice-ridden early 20th century Alabama. Atticus helps to develop healthy and moral attitudes in his children by encouraging them to avoid unnecessary conflict, to always strive to be the better person, but also to still be prepared to accept a challenge if it is necessary for doing what is morally right, which demonstrates his truly moral character. Being passive and avoiding conflict is often viewed as being weak, but in many cases, avoiding conflict can be the only responsible, morally correct choice. This is specifically demonstrated by Atticus Finch after Bob Ewell spits in his face. Atticus displays extreme restraint by refusing to fight Ewell. When asked to comment on the incident, he simply remarks, “I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco” (Lee 291). In this case, Atticus demonstrates that he is perfectly willing to swallow his pride and do what is right. Secondly, Atticus further expands on this attitude by teaching his children that it is wrong to fight with neighbours, no matter what insults are said to them. After Mrs. Dubose tries to antagonize Jem, Atticus advises: “…hold your head up high and be a gentleman. It’s your job to not let her make you mad” (Lee 133). On this occasion, Atticus is teaching his children the old proverb of “sticks and stones” – that people should learn to ignore things that others say about them. By being peaceful and restrained towards Bob Ewell, and requiring his children to do the same to Mrs. Dubose, Atticus is

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