Imagine existing in a world where it was expected of you to fight for someone, whilst the rest of world is rooting against them. Atticus Finch, the justice backbone of Maycomb County, (one of the main characters in the critically acclaimed novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee) is placed into this predicament.
Atticus is a widower, a law-abiding citizen and a small-town Southern lawyer that parents Scout and Jem (his children) according to his own virtues, values, and moral. Time and time again throughout the novel, Atticus proves that he is adequate in defending Tom Robinson (a negro accused of raping a white female). Atticus deals with conflict courageously, is rooted in his beliefs due to his high moral standards, is compassionate, and is a good role model because nurtures these qualities in his children. Importantly, Atticus displays courage by standing up for justice despite the consequences. One evening, a group of men, lead by the town sheriff, Heck Tate, come to Atticus’s house. As Tom Robinson´s trial is nearing, Robinson is to be moved to the Maycomb jail, and Tate warns Atticus the rumors of the possibility of a lynch mob rising. Tate questions Atticus’s authority of defending Robinson: “you’ve got everything to lose from this. Atticus.
I mean everything.” Even though Mr. Tate and the majority of Maycomb County is aware that Robinson is innocent, Mr. Tate cannot comprehend why Atticus would be eager to risk everything he has due to this case.
“Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till the truth’s told.” Atticus’s voice was even. And you know what the truth is.” Maycomb county is not enthusiastic to defend Tom´s odds due to the atrocious outcomes and their belief in racial discrimination, but Atticus is a very righteous person and will prevail in the face of conflict even if it means losing respect and gaining a bad reputation. Atticus is committed to racial equality and will defend Tom Robinson in spite of everything even it entitles the means of submitting himself and his family to the criticism of the white community. Atticus does not exert effort into Robinson’s case because Tom is an African American, but because Robinson is innocent.
Atticus believes that the justice system should be color blind and he defends Tom as an innocent man, not a man of color.In chapter 10, the children convinced that Atticus’ “advanced” age prevents him from participating in activities the fathers of their peers participate in. Although Atticus is different from the other fathers, he certainly makes up for it in the way he lectures his children. Jem and Scout receive air-rifles as Christmas gifts and Atticus refuses to teach them how to shoot but advises them: “Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Atticus believes that in a complicated world of good and evil, mockingbirds are one of the few forms of life that are entirely good.
The children obtain from Atticus’s lecture that the mockingbird is a symbol of innocence and purity and anyone who is purely innocent is a kind of mockingbird and should be protected at all costs. Scout and Jem are ashamed of their father because it seems like he cannot do anything noteworthy, but both of their views shortly changes later in the chapter. Furthermore, Atticus is unwilling to take advantage of anything that can not fight back. There is a rabid dog loose in the neighborhood that is required to be put down and Atticus is forced into a situation in which he determines whether to kill an innocent creature or endanger the lives of Macomb community. Atticus makes a tough call and decides to shoot Tim Johnson and Jem becomes vaguely articulate: “‘d you see him, Scout? ‘d you see him just standin’ there?… ‘n’ all of a sudden he just relaxed all over, an’ it looked like that gun was a part of him.
.. an’ he did it so quick, like.
.. I hafta aim for ten minutes ‘fore I can hit somethin’.” Atticus´ children are surprised to learn that he was once called One-Shot Finch because of his deadly aim, and they difficulty acquire the idea that Atticus murdered an innocent. Scout desires to brag at school, but Jem differs and he tells Scout that if Atticus was proud of his title he would have informed them of it.
Jem comes to the understanding that honor and courage are about humility and service, not pride. Atticus gave up shooting when he realized that it gave him an “unfair advantage” over living creatures. When Atticus shoots Tim Johnson, the symbolism of Tim Johnson being a mockingbird comes to the forefront but is tempered by the fact that Atticus had to kill Tim Johnson to keep his family and the rest of Maycomb safe. According to chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose and her battle with morphine addiction allow Atticus to teach Jem and Scout a lesson about both courage and human dignity. One day, Mrs. Dubose condemns Atticus for defending Tom Robinson and Jem responds by destroying the flowers on her camellia bushes.
Atticus teaches Scout: “the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Atticus punishes Jem for acting upon his emotions by forcing him to the obligation of reading literature to Mrs. Dubose. Atticus admits that Mrs. Dubose is prejudiced, but she is also courageous; fighting a battle against morphine she knows is a lost cause. Atticus wants his kids to realize that courage isn’t strength or skill with a gun, it’s standing up for what’s right no matter what.
Atticus kills two birds with one stone and gets Mrs. Dubose the relief she needs and educates Jem that real courage is not using a gun, but fighting for a cause that one believes in even if there is a high possibility of defeat.Equally as important, Atticus Finch has a unique personality and he parents his children very differently due to the fact that he is an attorney. Atticus treats his children as adults and honestly answers any question Jem and Scout present. Scout solemnly returns home from her first day of school and she tells Atticus she refuses to go back to school due to her new teacher.
Atticus attentively listens to Scout´s complaints and explains to her ¨you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.¨ Atticus asks Scout to understand the predicament Miss Caroline is in: Miss Caroline cannot be expected to correctly teach her students in a without getting to know the new environment first. Atticus teaches Scout about compromise: ¨an agreement reached by mutual concessions.¨ Atticus promises Scout that if she continues to attend school, Atticus will let her keep reading with him at home in secret.
In chapter 3, Scout learns that the town authorities bend the law for the Ewells due to compromise. Atticus’s parenting style is based on fostering the virtues: justice and equality in his children. Atticus uses every single instance as an opportunity to pass his values on to Scout and Jem which provides his children with a wide set of good morals.Another key point is that Atticus is selfless by always putting the well-being of others in front of his own well-being and he never responds to violence with violence.
One day, Atticus was leaving the post office when Mr. Ewell approached him, insulted him, spat on him, and threatened him. ¨Atticus didn´t bat a eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewell call him names.¨ Atticus does not retaliate when Bob Ewell spits in his face because he understands that he has wounded Ewell’s pride — the only real possession Ewell had left. ¨If spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take.
He had to take it out on somebody and I´d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there.¨ Atticus explains to Jem and Scout that he is willing to be the recipient of Ewell’s anger if it means saving the Ewell children a beating. Atticus is happy to take the brunt of Ewell’s anger because he puts others before himself. Atticus is an expert at climbing into other people’s skin so he understands Ewell’s perspective and additionally showcases Ewell´s point of view to his children.Likewise, Atticus is a good influence on his kids because he has high morals standards and obligations. Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, a Negro, in court because Robinson has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
Atticus tells Scout: ¨If I didn’t hold my head up in town, I couldn´t represent this country in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.¨ Atticus tells Scout that he must argue the case because he believes it is his duty to do what is morally right and to uphold his sense of justice, and self-respect even though he knows that it is a case that he cannot hope to win. Atticus tells Scout to keep her head up and her fists down.
¨Try fighting with your head for a change.¨ Atticus knows by taking the case that him and his family will be looked down upon, but he hopes that Jem and Scout will look up to him for answers rather than to the townspeople, and not respond to remarks and accusations of the townspeople with violence. No matter what situation he faces, the code of conduct that Atticus maintains for himself remains the same. Atticus feels the obligation to take Tom Robinson’s case and defend Robinson to the best of his abilities because he would see himself as a hypocrite if he did not.
Scout and Jem are beginning to see the prejudice that is as much a part of Maycomb hiding behind the kindness they have long known. Atticus teaches Jem and Scout both tolerance and courage: he never disregard those who disagree with him but also refuses to let them stop him from fighting for equity.Correspondingly, Atticus utilizes every moment as a learning opportunity to pass on his virtues to his children. Jem is adamant and expressed disdain for the jury that convicted Robinson. Atticus explains: ¨whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is or how fine a family he comes from that white man is trash.¨ It does not matter the status or wealth one is from but if one groups people into levels, demand conformity, and give no respect or credit to individuals who are indifferent one is not any better and is even worse than someone who has no status or wealth. ¨Don’t fool yourselves-it’s all adding up and one of these days we´re going to pay the bill for it. I hope it’s not in you children’s time.
¨ Atticus views the African American community as a flock of mockingbirds who are trying to live in a world that is made hostile by whites and he is convinced that whites will eventually be punished for their prejudice. Atticus successfully install equality into Jem and Scout by teaching them not to judge by someone by color but by one’s character. Atticus´s understanding of equality and color blindness allows him to see clearly that Tom Robinson’s case is motivated by racism will stop at no odds to secure the freedom of Robinson.
To summarize, Atticus manifest the concept of not discriminating for attributes one cannot change but what is on the inside is what matters. Atticus demonstrates that he is righteous, courageous, and compassionate throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus paves a path toward equality by teaching people to put themselves into other people’s shoes and not to judge someone by the color of their skin.
Not only does To Kill a Mockingbird accurately convey the atmosphere of the time and many negative cultural attributes of the American South at the time, but it ensures nobody falls back into this mindset.