Near the end of the book Atticus says to Heck Tate, Sometimes I think

Near the end of the book Atticus says to Heck Tate, Sometimes I think

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Near the end of the book Atticus says to Heck Tate, Sometimes I think
I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. How do you
judge Atticus as a parent? Does he make any mistakes? What do other
characters say about him?

Near the end of the book Atticus says to Heck Tate, "Sometimes I think
I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got."

How do you judge Atticus as a parent? Does he make any mistakes? What
do other characters say about him?

Atticus is a single parent who is nearly fifty years old when we first
meet him. He lives with his two children, Jem who is 10 at the
beginning of the book, and Scout who is six. His wife died when Scout
was two, so Atticus has had to bring the children up for four years,
on his own, with help from Calpurnia-a coloured servant.

Atticus is a lawyer, who practises in his hometown, which is a small
town called Maycomb in Alabama. Hard times fall upon the Finch family
when Atticus is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has
been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white girl. Atticus does not
have to agree to take the case, but his self-respect and pride demand
that he makes sure Tom gets a fair trial. He knows that he does not
have a good chance of winning the trial, because it is a case of a
white mans word against a black man, he admits this, "we were licked
before we started". This act displays his belief in humanity and his
sense of justice. It also verifies that Atticus is not a racist man
and views the black community as equals. This attitude was not
prevalent at the time, despite the fact that it was over seventy years
since the Civil War.

We learn of Atticus' approach to bringing up his children when Scout
says, "he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous
detachment". This, however, is not the only view Scout and Jem have of
their father. To begin with they seem disappointed that their father
does not do the same sort of things that other fathers do. He does not
play football or poker, and he does not drink or smoke. Even though
Atticus may have been remote in some of his dealings with his
children, he did speak frankly to them, even about embarrassing
things. He bought them a shotgun for Christmas, telling them not to
kill a mocking bird. He may have been reserved, but I think he was

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very knowing about his children and expressed his feelings in more
obscure ways. Scout is curious about her father, and so asks Miss
Maudie, a neighbour, and Calpurnia about him. They give her a short
list of things he can do, for example Miss Maudie says, "he can make
somebody's will so airtight can't anybody meddle with it." She also
mentions that Atticus is a good chequer-player, and can play a Jews
harp. However, these are not the sort of things that a child would be
impressed with. So the children are stunned when a mad dog comes to
their street and Heck Tate asks Atticus to shoot it, "Jem and I nearly
fainted", they were even more shocked when their father actually takes
the gun and shoots the dog, "Jem was paralysed." After this incident,
the children take a completely different view on their father and are
more respectful. Jem in particular finds peace with the fact that
Atticus is old, and can not do much, "I wouldn't care if he couldn't
do a blessed thing". After this event, Miss Maudie talks to the
children about their father and his character,

"If your father's anything, he's civilized in his heart.
Marksmanship's a gift of God, a talent - oh, you have to practise to
make it perfect, but shootin's different from playing the piano or the
like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had
given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he
decided he wouldn't shoot till he had to, and he had to today."

The fact that Miss Maudie mentions that Atticus is civilized in his
heart suggests that she admires his principals. Throughout the book
Miss Maudie always has a steady view about Atticus, her opinions about
life and her views are very similar to those of Atticus, throughout
the entire book she backs up his philosophy that all men are equal.
She evidently has very high regards for him, for instance, she
comments on his consistency of character, whether privately at home or
publicly in town. His conduct is always gentlemanly despite
provocation. An example of this would be when Bob Ewell spits in his
face and curses, and Atticus does not become angry or stoop to Bob's
level, no matter how much it may have upset him. This is also an
example of how level headed and kind Atticus is, "He had to take it
out on somebody and I'd rather it be on me than that houseful of
children"

Despite the fact that Atticus and Tom Robinson lost the case against
the Ewells, and even though Bob Ewell knew that he was lying and that
the verdict was unjust, he still felt like he needs revenge against
Atticus. This may be because Atticus humiliated him in front of most
of Maycomb. This says a lot about the sort of man Bob is, one would
think that the fact that Atticus lost the case would be satisfactory
revenge, but towards the end of the book, it is evident that this is
not so. The underestimation Atticus makes about Bob Ewell is maybe the
biggest mistake he makes. Atticus assumes that the day Bob spits in
his face, that he has unleashed all his anger and even though he was
threatened by Bob, he does not worry about it, "What on earth could
Ewell do to me...Nobody has much chance to be furtive in Maycomb".
Atticus completely ignores the warning that his sister, Aunt
Alexandra, makes. Of course this is a very foolish assumption which
almost ends up costing him the lives of his children.

This was not the only thing that Aunt Alexandra disagreed with Atticus
about. Shortly after her arrival Alexandra makes clear that she does
not like the way Scout has been growing up. She dislikes that fact
that Scout is a Tomboy, and she does not like the way that Atticus
lets the children do as they please, as is also the view of Mrs
Dubose. She also suggests that Calpurnia stops working for the family,
as she is now there and can do the jobs that Calpurnia would normally
do, however she is immediately put straight, "Calpurnia's not leaving
this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn't
have got along without her all these years. She's a member of this
family and you'll simply have to accept things the way they are."

Another of the mistakes Atticus makes, is when he goes to the jail to
make sure a Lynch mob does not come after Tom Robinson. It is obvious
that Atticus would not have been able to stop the Lynch mob from
getting Tom, and by staying outside the jail house that night he was
putting himself in a lot of danger. If Scout had not have interrupted
the Lynch mob and singled out Mr Cunningham then Atticus may have got
badly injured or maybe even killed for trying to protect Tom. This is
yet another example of Atticus' kindness and his determination for
justice and law to rule.

By taking such risks in his career and his own safety, to defend Tom,
Atticus earned a lot of respect from the people around Maycomb,
especially the black community. This is displayed when a lot of people
send gifts of food for Atticus and the family, " They 'preciate what
you did Mr Finch......Atticus' eyes filled with tears...Tell them I'm
very grateful"

My opinion of Atticus, is quite similar to that of his children and
Miss Maudie. I have acquired a liking for his character, because he is
genuinely a good man. He has tried his best to bring up his children
as well as he can, and I consider his views to be very modern for his
time. Even as children, he reasoned with Jem and scout as if they were
adults, and he never kept anything from them. His mind perceived truth
and he kept his principles and beliefs the same no matter who he was
dealing with. He refused to let anyone change his mind if he
considered it to be a contradiction to his beliefs. "Before Jem looks
at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look
Squarely back at him...frankly I couldn't meet his eye, and the day I
can't do that I'll know I've lost him." It may seem that some of his
actions were fool hardy, for instance, sitting outside the jail when
the lynch mob were out to get Tom Robinson, but this action rather
demonstrates Atticus' belief that truth is worth making the supreme
sacrifice for, no matter what the cost to himself. By his action he
was taking on the whole beliefs and prejudices of the town, and taking
on a higher moral ground. This is passed on to his children who show
the same personal integrity. I consider him a good father because he
passed on a set of moral guidelines and beliefs to his children, by
not dictating to them, but by giving them opportunity to learn
themselves. The children became independent thinkers and individuals
in their own right, and in his time as well as ours there needs to be
people who are not afraid to challenge injustice and be prepared to
live according to their own conscience even if it seems unconventional
to others. I think they were very fortunate to have a father like
Atticus.
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