English 9 Pre-AP
17 March 2012
As stated by George Washington Carver, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong -- because someday you will have been all of these.” In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is the father of Jem and Scout Finch, while fighting justice as a lawyer in Maycomb County. Atticus Finch is an affectionate, benevolent, sympathetic, and tolerate man with anyone he comes in contact with. He is respectful to everyone and believes strongly in equality among everyone in Maycomb, regardless of their age, gender, race, or rank. As the novel progresses, the reader gains a love for Atticus as he presents himself as a wise, calm, moral, and expressive person. Throughout the novel, Atticus reveals his wisdom to the readers. During the court case, he never lets his guard down and is ready to take whatever bullet is shot toward Tom Robinson. His wisdom never subsides as he tries to persuade the brainwashed jury of Maycomb that an innocent Negro is meant to be free, not treated as an animal in his own city all from accusations. In his conclusion, Atticus states, “The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.” (Lee 108) In stating this, Atticus is persuading the jury that the Ewells do not have solid enough evidence to strip this man of his clean name, his innocence, and even his life. During his monologue, he revealed the real man at fault and made it known that Mayella is merely trying to save herself. Atticus throws his opinion toward the jury, stating, “You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women—black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.” (Lee 109) Lastly, in his closing statement Atticus says to the jury, “A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up. I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty.” (Lee 109-10) Reminding the jury that Tom has a family to fend for and justice should be served to the real felon was a wise way for him to end his defense technique because it leads to the jury having to consider the verdict for longer than they would have originally.
Another characteristic that is revealed of Atticus is his ability to remain calm in rough situations. He never overreacts under pressure and acts well in the spotlight. Throughout the entire court case, he presents himself in a civil manner. Although his children notice his unfamiliar actions, such as taking off his coat, unbuttoning his vest and collar, loosening his tie, and sweating, everyone else sees him as a confident lawyer ready to do his service. Atticus remains calm during the trial and states his defendant’s case as if it were his own life at stake. Although he fails to save Tom Robinson’s life, he still insisted on confronting Helen and letting her know of her loss. He tells Calpurnia, “Depends on how you look at it. What was one Negro, more or less, among two hundred of ‘em? He wasn’t Tom to them, he was an escaping prisoner.” (Lee 315) Atticus had every right to be livid, but rather than blowing the situation into a worst one, he puts himself in the shoes of the guards. From there, he decided they did what they had to and he could not put the blame on them.
Atticus expresses himself as a person filled with morals that he actually abides by. He quotes Thomas Jefferson stating, “All men are created equal.” (Lee 109) In stating this, Atticus is informing the reader on his point of view of humanity. Atticus believes all men, women, and children have one similarity in the end. Atticus then follows up with, “There is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.” (Lee 109). By saying this, Atticus is backing himself up and also involving the courts of America and the court that lies before them. He ends the trial with that lingering in the minds of the people of the court, and the witnesses in the pews.
Throughout Atticus’ monologue in the court, he presents himself as wise, moral, kind, and unafraid to express himself to anyone that has an open ear. He approaches the most unimaginable and rough situations with caution and thoughtfulness, while also considering the impact it may have on others. Scout and Jem learn many things from their father, and will slowly develop into people as admirable as their father is. He is a constant reminder on why we should walk in someone else’s skin before we judge them and assume we understand what they’ve experienced and why they are who they are.