Analysis of Atticus


“He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, they knew him...” pg. 5


The novel To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee is first person narrative told through the eyes of young Scout Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, is portrayed as the perfect human being. This character is written to be thought of as an excellent parent and even heroic for handling the controversial trial that struck Maycomb County. However, eventhough he is portrayed to be sickeningly perfect in theory, in truth he is just a good person that naturally has flaws of his own.


He is a fifty year old lawyer who is the parent of two: Jem and Jean “Scout” Finch. According to the modern parenting criteria of allowing children be themselves, Atticus has done a fairly good job. He allows his children to explore the world around them; therefore allowing them to learn life’s lessons on their own. He does not undermine their maturity and intelligence and therefore he treats them with respect and has even taught Scout how to read and write a very young age. However, according to the school system in Maycomb County children were to learn how to read and write during the third grade, while Scout already knew how to in the first grade. Even after Scout’s teacher tells her to stop reading Atticus undermines the teacher’s authority by allowing Scout to keep reading and even tells her not to mention anything about her reading at school.


“ ‘Bending the law?’


‘No, an agreement reached by mutual concessions… By the way, Scout, you’d better not say anything at school about our agreement.’


‘Why not?’


‘I’m afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities.’ ” pg. 31


Atticus handles his parenting actions quite unusually. He enforces a sense of authority on his children but also allows them to do things on their own; things that can be either considered good or bad. He allows Scout to be herself. She is much wilder and rebellious than how girls were supposed to be back then. Scout is always wearing pants and playing boyish games with her brother Jem; things that were disapproved by society but allowed by Atticus. He allows many things to go on, but from time to time he imposes his sense of authority on his children. When Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose roses he punishes him my forcing him to read to her everyday until his debt is paid. However, he sometimes handles situation of the same nature quite differently. Sometimes, he does not say anything at all. When Scout beats up her cousin Francis, her uncle is the one that actually punishes her and not Atticus. He just said, “She had it coming.”


He is a well-respected lawyer who takes the Tom Robinson case that struck Maycomb County because he believes in equality and does not support prejudging someone. “ …You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around it.” pg. 30 However, to the public he seems to support strongly his beliefs of equality and prejudgment; he has stands strong behind his beliefs and instincts. When his sister Alexandra goes to live with them she is able to influence him a lot. She is able to break Atticus’ strong parenting instincts and change him. For a moment, Atticus acts just the way his sister wanted him to; he scolded at Scout, thing he never did before.


“ ‘Stop that noise,’ Atticus said.


‘His curtness stung me…. This was not my father. My father never thought these thoughts. My father never spoke so. Aunt Alexandra had put him up to this, somehow.’” pg. 134


Atticus Finch is written to be thought of as a sickeningly perfect character. He is a good father and lawyer. He also stands strong on what he believes in. However, eventhough he is that, he sometimes shows his flaws. Atticus Finch is just a good human being that obviously commits mistakes of his own. He does things that have two sides to them and can be considered either good or bad, depending on the reader’s criteria.