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To Kill a Mockingbird - The Character of Atticus Finch
Kind and understanding, strict but fair, Atticus Finch embodies everything that a father should be. A man of great strength and courage, he is Scout and Jem's hero; the steady presence that keeps them grounded and their only connection to the adult world. He is their teacher, their protector, and their friend. He takes on these responsibilities without hesitation, and cares far Scout and Jem the only way he knows how. Some say it's a misguided effort at parenthood, but the reader sees that Atticus' episodes with his children are what make him an exemplary father.
Atticus' unique relationship with Scout and Jem is built on equality and respect, and helps to create his "father of the year" character. The simple act of calling him "Atticus" and not "father" brings Scout and Jem to the same level as Atticus. They are people, not children. "Jem protested, then pleaded, and Atticus said, `All right, you can come with us if you stay in the car'"(239). By allowing Jem and Dill to accompany him and Calpurnia to tell Mrs. Robinson about Tom's death, Atticus demonstrates his respect for Jem and Dill, and his faith in their maturity.
Part of Atticus' role as a father is teacher. Most of Scout and Jem's knowledge comes from Atticus. He teaches them the important life lessons that they can't learn from books or blackboards. " `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'"(30). This conversation between Atticus and Scout comes early in the novel, and helps the reader to appreciate the special bond between Atticus and his children. They respect him as their father, and they value his opinions and advice. In addition to sharing his thoughts and wisdom with Scout and Jem, Atticus teaches through example. His lessons in morality and ethics come in the courtroom, when he's defending Tom Robinson. " `You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women- black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men.
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