Examine How Lee Presents the Character of Atticus in to Kill a Mockingbird

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Atticus is a central figure in the novel, playing a crucial role in all major events. He serves as the moral backbone of Maycomb society and a voice of reason for the oppressed. Lee presents Atticus as unconventional for his time, portraying him as someone who will bring moral change to Maycomb. The timing of the novel suggests that Lee wants to urge readers to examine their own prejudiced views just as the people of Maycomb should do.

Atticus is a highly notable character in literature and law. He is depicted by Lee as nearly flawless, possessing impeccable morals and demonstrating fairness, respect, and, crucially, a lack of prejudice which aligns with the book’s central theme. Even upon his initial introduction, Lee illustrates Atticus’s strong commitment to fairness and diplomacy, stating that both Scout and Jem are correct in their reflections on the events described in the novel.

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Atticus also values fair opportunities, as demonstrated by his decision to invest his earnings in his brother’s education. In the book, which takes place during the great depression, this display of generosity is emphasized to convey Atticus’ altruistic nature. Harper Lee intentionally contrasts Atticus with Maycomb’s social expectations, which are often characterized by social prejudice and hypocrisy, in order to highlight the stark contrast between right and wrong.

In the introduction, Scout observes how Atticus has not only physically moved away from his family’s property at Finch’s Landing but also strayed from societal expectations. This is exemplified by Atticus’ former pastime of shooting doves for leisure, which he now recognizes as morally wrong and tries to conceal his proficient marksmanship. Additionally, Atticus is portrayed as an exceptional but unconventional parent; he treats his children with politeness, shows them respect so that they obey him, and consistently communicates honesty.

He dislikes “connivance,” so Lee maintains consistency in the book by having Atticus always choose the path where nothing is concealed from his children without any disguises. Whenever Atticus educates his children, he frequently employs language resembling a “last-will-and-testament,” although Scout observes that they were consistently permitted to interrupt for clarification, signifying his understanding that children should be treated with respect while also acknowledging their individualities.

Atticus also recognizes the futility of withholding information from those impacted by it. In fact, he believes that doing so would only worsen the situation. Consequently, he demonstrates unparalleled honesty with his children. He understands that when a child poses a question, it is crucial to provide a direct answer without evasion. According to Atticus, children possess a keen ability to detect evasiveness, and such tactics only serve to confuse them. Lee presents Atticus as a parent who diverges from societal norms, thereby highlighting his exceptional qualities as a caregiver. This portrayal remains relevant even in the contemporary era, where openness is more prevalent than it was in Maycomb.

Atticus stands out in the town as someone who possesses the rare skill of empathizing with others and examining situations from multiple perspectives. His wisdom, which he imparts to Scout, is that understanding a person requires considering their point of view. This consistent demonstration of empathy distinguishes him as a highly compassionate character who avoids the harmful effects of prejudice. Furthermore, he strives to instill in his children the importance of adopting this unbiased viewpoint.

Lee demonstrates that he genuinely upholds his values and does not differentiate between people. Despite his exceptional abilities, Atticus never attempts to flaunt or boast about his traits, which are highly admired by the community and readers alike. Miss Maudie believes that any sensible person would never take pride in their talents. Atticus exemplifies this belief when Heck attempts to tell Jem that his father is the best marksman in Maycomb county, but Atticus interrupts him, as he does not wish to show off.

Additionally, he becomes aware that it is never appropriate to show off such a deadly talent. In her portrayal of Atticus, Lee presents a highly ethical character who consistently acts in accordance with his moral obligations. This is exemplified by the fact that Atticus is the only lawyer whom individuals like Judge Taylor [242] “rely on to do [what is] right” and the only attorney they trust to offer Tom Robinson a fair chance of acquittal. As the public recognizes, Atticus [169] “strives to defend [Tom]” and puts forth maximum effort in the trial.

He feels that he would not have any self respect if he didn’t, and this shows his strong moral values and how deeply ingrained it is in his life. He cannot bear to part with it as it goes against his moral beliefs. Atticus, as seen through his actions and according to Scout, is the “bravest man” who ever lived. However, this bravery does not conform to Maycomb’s social expectations, which is consistent with other aspects of his life mentioned earlier.

According to Scout’s initial perspective, Atticus [106] dislikes guns and violence and is not typically masculine [95]. Scout’s perception is influenced by the community she resides in, reflecting their beliefs. This demonstrates the contrasting views on courage within the Maycomb community. In contrast to Atticus, the community associates bravery with possessing a firearm. Due to his opposition to violence and moral values, Atticus holds a different viewpoint. Lee consistently portrays Atticus as a non-conformist, but his opinions appear more rational.

Atticus is a brave man who, despite knowing he may fail, always follows through with his actions. He challenges the societal norms of 1930s America and is seen as a refreshing presence. Despite not fitting people’s expectations, he still garners respect due to his respectful nature, his family’s reputation, and his race.

However, Atticus does not entirely agree with this definition of who “fine folks” are. Throughout the book, he consistently explains to Scout and Jem that good people are those who persevere, who do what is right regardless of societal expectations, and who possess moral integrity. This perspective sharply contrasts with the views of others in the Maycomb community. Instead of regarding fine folks as those who do their best with the knowledge they possess, these people judge others based on social status and inherited traits – factors that individuals have no control over.

Atticus stands out in Maycomb because of his consistent portrayal, which allows Lee to create a clearer distinction between right and wrong. Even when Atticus disagrees with someone, he displays respect while also sharing the reasons behind his beliefs. One of his “dangerous” questions is, “Do you really think so…?” Although not truly perilous, it has the potential to challenge the other person’s perspective and their fundamental understanding of the world.

During the pretrial period, it is common for many individuals to believe that Atticus is wrong in his approach to defending a black man. Atticus expresses to his brother that the trial holds a deep personal significance for him, which is evident in his explanations. He explains that he would feel ashamed to face the town and even unable to advise his children, Scout and Jem, on their actions anymore. This explanation aligns with Atticus’ moralistic perspective portrayed throughout the book.

In the Bildungsroman novel “To Kill A Mockingbird,” the character Scout experiences personal growth and development. Atticus, a morally upright figure, plays a vital role in teaching important life lessons to his children. The theme of respect holds immense importance to him because he believes that engaging in immoral actions would harm his self-respect. Atticus consistently educates his children on how to navigate life’s complexities, both directly and indirectly, ultimately helping them mature and comprehend the world.

The opening of the book features a notable quote from Atticus that resonates with readers, stating: “you never truly comprehend an individual until you contemplate things from their perspective.” This deep understanding contributes to the development of his children’s outlook on life. Through recognizing someone’s situation, Atticus strives to impart the lesson that “most people are [kind] once you truly witness them.” The title of the book originates from this statement, highlighting Atticus’s pivotal role in the narrative and his position as its moral guide.

The context of the quote [96] “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” is significant. Atticus mentions it while teaching his children to become exemplary citizens like himself. This lesson revolves around moral values and highlights the harmlessness of innocent individuals. Atticus, being an idealist and optimist, strongly advocates for unconditional love for everyone [115]. He believes that all individuals deserve love because he perceives them as having both good and bad qualities, and he doesn’t see anyone as being inherently malicious [275].

Despite Atticus’ optimistic outlook, the events surrounding Bob Ewell’s revenge in the book reveal that Atticus’ optimism borders on being cavalier, albeit in an unconventional manner. Rather than displaying disrespect and arrogance by ignoring certain aspects, he goes in the opposite direction – being excessively respectful. While this idealism may benefit the children, it almost resulted in them losing their lives, thus raising doubts about the seemingly flawless parenting technique exhibited by Atticus in other chapters.

Despite receiving confirmation from Tate that Bob Ewell was responsible for the attack, Atticus remains resolute in his moral stance. He cannot fathom how someone could commit such a cruel act. Even as he affectionately tucks Scout into bed, Lee consistently portrays Atticus as a figure of morals. In a touching statement, Atticus expresses his belief that people are generally kind once you truly get to know them. Therefore, he still holds onto his faith in the innate goodness of humanity.

Atticus goes beyond the typical role of a father by teaching his children essential skills like reading at an early age. He also acts as their mentor, offering guidance and imparting valuable life lessons that will mold them into responsible members of society. His belief in humanity’s innate goodness and dedication to instilling important values are evident throughout the book. Atticus often connects his teachings to specific events, such as when they interact with Mrs. Dubose, using these instances to teach his children about bravery.

This form of teaching makes him more successful and his children will ultimately benefit from it, even if they don’t initially appreciate it. In contrast to other teachers and their methods, Atticus is not overly controlling or pushy; instead, he connects lessons to real-life situations, prompting the children to reflect on their actions. Ultimately, Atticus is portrayed as nearly flawless – the perfect embodiment of morals, lacking prejudice, and the outstanding parent in Maycomb. However, Harper Lee’s consistent portrayal of Atticus as such can make him appear larger-than-life and somewhat unconvincing as a character.

However, this portrayal of Atticus might be seen as a literary technique used by Lee to juxtapose this extreme with the highly immoral individuals in Maycomb. Nevertheless, this depiction does imply that Atticus is not easily relatable. Lee does introduce a flaw in Atticus’s character, his overly optimistic idealism. However, this flaw alone does not make Atticus a character that readers can aspire to be like, as his principles and standards appear too perfect to be attainable.

The book is narrated by Scout, Atticus’ daughter, as she grows up. This gives the story a more enjoyable reading experience. However, it also impacts our perception of Atticus. It is likely that Lee chose this viewpoint to emphasize Atticus’ character. By using Scout’s perspective, we as readers are able to put ourselves in her shoes. This allows us to relate to Scout’s experiences when Atticus teaches her something or when she discovers something new about him. Overall, this literary device helps to increase our admiration for Atticus.

This technique is employed skillfully by Lee in portraying Atticus’s character and maintaining the theme of education. It creates a more interactive experience for the reader, involving them in the lessons being learned. Atticus serves as a central figure throughout the book, playing a prominent role in the trial, as well as various other key events such as Scout’s school experience, the confrontation with the mad dog, and the incident involving Mrs Dubose. The other characters in the book are all connected to Atticus in some way, as he is related to almost every family in town. While this refers to blood and marriage ties, it could also be interpreted as a subtle hint that Atticus has a significant impact on most of Maycomb’s residents. Many depend on him to do what is right, including his children, the black community, and a majority of society. However, his influence also has negative consequences for two individuals – Bob and Mayella Ewell. This highlights the importance of Atticus’s character and presentation in the overall story.

Lee maintains consistency in portraying Atticus as a stable pillar in the community even when Maycomb faces turmoil. Unlike most of the community, Atticus does not lose his composure when any matter related to a Negro arises. His qualities and values remain unchanged throughout. During the trial, Atticus defends a black man, but his defense extends beyond the courtroom. He consistently advocates for those who are socially and racially marginalized, as well as victims of prejudice, making him the voice of reason and support.

To Kill A Mockingbird Ending V2: In the book, Lee skillfully uses Atticus as a consistent plot device to contrast his moral views with the prevalent racism and prejudice of the time period. Despite this, Lee’s exceptional writing has elevated Atticus beyond being just a plot device, establishing him as a revered character in literature. Source: Heinemann Publishing copy of To Kill a Mockingbird

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Examine How Lee Presents the Character of Atticus in to Kill a Mockingbird. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from


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