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Characterization of Atticus Finch

By chaerin7 Jun 12, 2010 1078 Words
Characterization of Atticus Finch

In the novel To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Lee introduces Atticus Finch as a as a loving and caring father, a supportive keeper of the law, a man of hidden talents, and a man of wisdom. Atticus has a mind of his own, and is unusual in both qualities and social status. As a man of honesty and wisdom, he is well respected throughout the city of Maycomb. Father to Jem and Scout, Atticus plays the heroic figure in the novel. He is a rather considerate, kind, and most understanding character. As a single parent he tries his best to fulfill his duties as a father to Jem and Scout by sharing his beliefs and values with them. Although he often doubts himself and thinks he is a complete failure as a parent, it’s actually the opposite. To be honest, he is more than a parent to Jem and Scout. Other than being a good father, Atticus plays a role as their teacher, their protector, and their friend. One of Atticus’s roles as a father is being a teacher to Jem and Scout. He shares a unique relationship with them. Most children call their father “father.” On the other hand, when it comes to Jem and Scout, it’s a different story. Rather than calling Atticus father, they call him by his first name, “Atticus.” logically, this is all part of Atticus’ morals for Jem and Scout. Calling him by his first name builds up equality between them. It sets them on the same level as Atticus. Basically, if they are on the same level as he, they will acknowledge that he is expecting maturity from them. Atticus portrays himself as a role model for his children. He teaches them about tolerance. Instead of telling his children to act a certain way, he disciplines them by setting examples for them from which they can learn. Many of those examples are expressed in the story; for instance the character Tom Robinson who has been accused of rape by a white woman. Although he is innocent of the crime, because of the fact that he is a black man, he is considered guilty. In addition, when it comes to the Tom Robinson’s conflict, Atticus did not just jump to conclusions like the others did by believing that Tom Robinson is guilty. As a lawyer, after analyzing the conflict, he came to the conclusion that Tom Robinson is an innocent man, but he will not be spared by the jury because of racism. Even though it did not look like Atticus’ intention from the beginning by handling this case, other than trying to free Tom Robinson from his accusation, he is also setting examples for his children about tolerance. In addition, he wants his children to be able to live a life in which they can accept anyone in life for who they are regardless of race or religion. For instance, in chapter 9 Atticus’ made a statement regarding his children and racism. “Right. But do you think I could face my children otherwise? You know what’s going to happen as well as I do jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand…I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough.” Compared to the parents in the town of Maycomb, Atticus differs when it comes to parenthood. Unlike the other parents he does not limit his children. He accepts them for who they are; Scout, for instance, is a carefree tomboy who does whatever she wishes. Growing up during the time of the Great Depression in early 1930’s, girls were expected to dress a certain way. They were not supposed to show much skin and were expected to wear dresses only. Little do these standards set by society exist in Scout’s world. Doing boys’ activities were Scout’s everyday life; nether less she fearless and even pick a fight with a boy. Scout’s characteristics would be completely absurd to those in the town of maycomb; which pretty much explains why Aunt Alexandra was not too fond with scout wearing pants other than a dress. “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire . I could not possible hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my fathers lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.” In other words when it comes to Atticus’ it does not bother him at all and is very comfortable with the way scout portrays herself. On the contrary, although Atticus does not limit his children much, he still has a strict side. Letting his children explore and go on adventures day after day during the hot summer vacation with Dill is not much of a burden to him. On the other hand, it did not please him at all when his children have the nerve to disturbed the Radley’s peace. Atticus is quite strict, but fair.

In closing, Atticus shows deep understanding of human nature towards others regardless of their status. He is a man of justice who wants to keep the law together and do the right thing. He made several comments in the novel expressing his beliefs. For example, “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus shows these traits not just in special cases but in everyday life.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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