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Characterization of Atticus Finch

By Traycer21 Apr 21, 2013 651 Words
Characterization Interpretation of Atticus Finch
The characterization of Atticus finch is definitely more accurate in Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Courthouse Ring: Atticus Finch and the Limits of Southern Liberalism” than in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The way Harper Lee depicts Atticus makes him seem unrealistic, while Gladwell’s interpretation has more evidence behind it and seems more accurate. Gladwell’s interpretation of Atticus reveals the unrealistic world he lives in, the weakness in his court case, and his discriminating standards. These are some of the many reasons why Gladwell’s interpretation of Atticus Finch is more accurate.

The first reason Gladwell’s interpretation of Atticus Finch is more accurate than Lee’s version is the fact that throughout the story Atticus seems to be living in a fantasy world. During the scene where Atticus tells Scout about Walter Cunningham and the lynch mob, Gladwell points out that despite Walter’s “homicidal hatred for black people”, Atticus believes that he is just in a blind spot along with the rest of us. Atticus is trying to live in the fantasy that Walter is a good man, even though attempted to kill a man because of the color of his skin. In another scene Atticus tells Scout about the Ku Klux Klan just being a political organization that went away because of a person named Sam Levy making them ashamed of themselves (Lee). He does not want to deal with the existence of anti-Semitism, but wants to live in the fantasy of Mr. Levy giving them a good scolding and scaring them away (Gladwell).

Another reason Gladwell’s interpretation of Atticus Finch’s character is more accurate than Lee’s version is how Atticus weakly defends Tom Robinson in court. Atticus’s best defense for Tom was that he could not of hit Mayella Ewell because he only has a right arm and the bruises on Mayella’s face were on the right side of her face (Lee). This is not a strong point due to the fact that Tom could have easily struck Mayella with her head turned or with a backhand motion. Atticus also tries to use the desperate “she wanted it” defense as a last straw against Mayella, saying she wanted to have sex with Tom (Gladwell). This was a harsh accusation that was seen as a despicable act; it was thought that no whte woman would ever consensually have sex with a black man.

The final reason why Gladwell’s interpretation of Atticus Finch is more accurate than Lee’s version is the fact that Mr. Finch has contradicting morals, which Lee does not seem to point out but Gladwell does. At one point in the story, Atticus tells Scout and Jem that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, symbolizing not to harm or take away from the innocent (Lee). Lee points out how Atticus shows his sensitivity and moral tranquility by teaching his kids not to disturb the innocent, implying people like accused rapist Tom Robinson and neighborhood freak show Boo Radley who have been tormented by their society. Toward the end of the story, Boo Radley saves Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell and Atticus asks Scout to change her story for the sake of protecting Boo. Gladwell points out how Atticus wants to obstruct justice to prevent Boo Radley from being showered with gifts for his heroism (Gladwell). Why is he going against his previous belief that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird by taking away the praise Boo would have received?

Lee’s interpretation of Atticus Finch is inaccurate due to the way Atticus fails to accept reality, defend Tom Robinson, and follow his morals. Gladwell on the other hand points out these faults and provides strong evidence proving Atticus is not the perfect man Lee depicts him as. As a result, it is very evident that the characterization of Atticus Finch is far more accurate in Gladwell’s interpretation than in Lee’s.

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