One person’s actions can change the world. This can be seen in To Kill a Mockingbird. In this story, Scout Finch tells the story of when her father, Atticus Finch, takes on the task of defending Tom Robinson, a black man, in a rape case. This proved to be a highly controversial ordeal that shakes up their old, little town of Maycomb County, Alabama. Racial prejudice runs high in Maycomb during the Great Depression, the time in which this story takes place. In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch has a significant influence on Maycomb County and the residents living inside of it.
Atticus influences many people in Maycomb, but the people he has the greatest affect on are his children. Atticus’s daughter, Scout Finch, pays Atticus a huge amount of respect. When, Scout, Jem, and their friend, Dill was playing the “Boo Radley Game” and Atticus caught them, Scout knew he did not approve. “Atticus’s arrival was [why she] wanted to quit the game.” (p.41). Scout has a lot of respect for Atticus and did not want to disappoint him. Also, she did noy want to get in trouble with Atticus. Atticus’s arrival caused Scout to rethink her actions and access the situation. Atticus’s other child, Jem Finch, also have been influenced a great deal by Atticus. When Atticus showed his shooting skills while shooting a mad dog, Scout wonders why he never told them about him being the deadliest shot in Maycomb. Jem says it is because “Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!” (p. 99). Atticus’s actions made Jem realize that people should always try to do what is right and be a gentleman. Jem also aspires to be like Atticus, seeing the way Atticus lives his life, makes Jem wants to be a gentleman, too. Atticus’s children are also influenced by Atticus from the moral lessons that he teaches them. In the first part of the book, Atticus told the children they are not allowed to shoot mockingbirds because mockingbirds are innocent, and does not hurt anyone. About a year or two later, when Atticus asks Scout if she understands why they are sticking with the story that Mr. Bob Ewell fell on his knife, Scout assured Atticus that they are doing the right thing because it would be like “shootin’ a mockingbird” (pg. 276). Scout is influenced by Atticus’ morals since she believes in them too. She takes Atticus’s teachings to heart and does not forget them. Atticus has made Scout a better person. Atticus is very much respected by his children and plays a big role in their life.
Atticus’s influence on Maycomb County does not only include his children, but also extends to other residents living in the town. Before Atticus takes the Tom Robinson case, Maycomb County was very segregated. There was not much interaction between races, and when there were, it was looked down upon. This changed after Atticus defended Tom Robinson. When Jem and Scout went to Calpurnia’s church, the reverend said “the church has no greater friend” (123) then Atticus. Atticus’s actions were one of the first steps in integrating Maycomb County. The black church members did not resent Atticus because of his skin color; instead they respected him because of his morals. Although the church members welcomed Atticus, many people were not happy that Atticus is defending Tom Robinson. One night a group of white men told Atticus “You know what we want… Get aside the door.” (pg. 151). The men wanted to hurt Tom Robinson, but Atticus held his ground. The fact that a respected white lawyer was defending a black man made the white people of Maycomb mad. Atticus’s choice to defend Tom Robinson made the men get mad and do things that were out of their character. The case brought out a whole new, bad side of the white citizens of Maycomb. When Atticus was appointed to defend Tom Robinson, he could have easily done a bad job of defending him on purpose. As one of the men who were watching the court case said. “Atticus aims to defend [Tom Robinson]” (pg.163). If it was any other lawyer, they probably would not have taken the case or purposely lose it. However, Atticus defended Tom to the best of his ability. He showed Tom that there are still people who will fight for him. With Atticus as Tom’s lawyer, he actually has a chance of winning despite the biased jury. Atticus influenced Tom Robinson’s life because he gave Tom hope.
Atticus Finch is a highly respectable man. He is a man with many morals and will not back down on them no matter what. He is such a huge influence on Maycomb and its residence because they all respect him and pay a lot of attention to his actions. His children were raised without a mother so their only parental role model was Atticus. He instilled his morals in them and taught them to be fair and not to judge people. His influence went beyond his house hold, he also affected the townspeople and the black church members. Atticus was an important part of Maycomb County.