Atticus Finch is an attorney at Maycomb County, and is a single father to Jem and Scout Finch. He is a very respectable character, who lives with dignity, humility, courage and honesty. Atticus is a very influential role model in his children’s lives. He is consistent with his beliefs, and true to his conscience. He is a loving, dutiful father and a skilled lawyer.
One of the most predominant traits of Atticus is his integrity. Atticus always remains true to his conscience, his beliefs and his values, even if they are against those of the society. Atticus is “the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” The greatest example of his integrity is the dedication with which he takes up Tom Robinson’s case.
He tries his best to prove Tom innocent, despite being mocked at by the society. When Scout asks Atticus why he supports Tom when the rest of Maycomb is against him, he says, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Atticus also does not want Heck Tate to cover up for Jem when Bob Ewell dies, and tells him, “If this thing’s hushed up it’ll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I’ve tried to raise him.” He thus lives by his own moral standards, and takes the right decision no matter the consequence.
Atticus is a humble, courteous and dignified man. He never forgets his manners, even with the most unpleasant of people. He addresses every person with respect, with terms like ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’.
When Atticus treats Mrs. Dubose with the same gallant courteousness, Scout is amazed. “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to wars, was the bravest man that ever lived.”
He never takes pride in his talents; it is seen that despite being “the deadest shot in Maycomb County”, Atticus never boasts about it. Impressed by his humility, Jem remarks, “Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!” Atticus also lives with quiet dignity; when Bob Ewell spits on his face and asks him “Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin’ bastard?” he simply wipes his face and replies,”No, too old” before walking away.
Along with his courtesy, humility, integrity and dignity, Atticus is also characterized by his courage and empathy. He teaches his children the true meaning of courage, and the difference between physical and moral courage.
When Scout asks him why he’s fighting Tom’s case despite knowing that he is going to fail, he says to her,”Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” He displays great moral courage by defending Tom Robinson, a Negro against a white man, and against the racist people of Maycomb.
Atticus also has a strong sense of empathy; he believes that every person deserves a chance to be understood. He tells his children, “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 endeavors to be a good father to his children, and is shown as the perfect example of a fair, honest, kind, empathetic parent, determined to teach his children the importance of good values. He treats his children fairly, and treats them like his equals rather than children.
Scout once tells her uncle Jack, “When Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever just listen to Jem’s side of it, he hears mine too.” Atticus tries to give truthful answers to the most difficult of his children’s questions, and by doing so he earns the trust and confidence of his children. His children believe him, and take his word against anything else.
Atticus also teaches them many important values of like through examples. For instance, he makes Jem read to Mrs. Dubose in order to teach him the essence of true courage. He also teaches his children to be empathetic, courteous and kind, and that it is wrong to harm an innocent being. “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
When Scout and Jem face ridicule at school, Atticus tells them, “You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ‘em get your goat.” Atticus’s efforts as a parent are aimed towards being true to his teachings towards them, and he thus says,” Sometimes I think I’m a total failure as a parent, but I’m all they’ve got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so that I can look squarely back at him.”
Thus Atticus is debatably the greatest literary character of all time, endowed with virtues like honesty, righteousness, politeness, courage and empathy. He is a responsible father, a professional lawyer, and a morally upright individual, who actively upholds his own morals against the racism and prejudice in the county.
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