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In To Kill a Mockingbird, list Atticus's physical qualities and how they link him to...

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lalala07 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 15, 2009 at 9:26 AM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, list Atticus's physical qualities and how they link him to the underdog of the story?

I have a Chapters 15-31 test tomorrow, and I'm doing some review and would really appreciate it if someone would answer my question. I also don't know who the underdog of the story is so please help!

Thank You :)

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2009 at 9:55 AM (Answer #1)

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    Atticus Finch is unlike any other man in Maycomb, Alabama, the fictional town of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. He is also the most respected man in town, a man whose honesty and high moral character is beyond reproach. To Jem and Scout, however, Atticus seems downright ordinary at times.

    Atticus was feeble; he was nearly 50... which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness... There was nothing Jem or I could say about him when our classmates said, "Our father--"
   
Our father didn't do anything.

Atticus is too old and tired to play football with Jem. He doesn't "play poker or fish or drink or smoke" or hunt or farm. He wears glasses and is nearly blind in his left eye--"the tribal curse of the Finches."
    But in the courtroom, Atticus is different. He "scared" Mayella Ewell, who "gave Atticus a final, terrified glance..." He is a bit too formal for the Maycomb jury, so Atticus "unbuttoned his vest, unbuttoned his collar, loosened his tie and took off his coat." Later, when Bob Ewell spits on him, Atticus refuses to fight because he is "too old," though the attorney is a larger man than "the little bantam cock." 
    In truth, Atticus is a big man. He runs unopposed and is never defeated as the local representative to the Alabama legislature. His old nickname is "One-Shot" Finch--the best shot in the county. He is actually physically fit--he walks virtually everywhere and rarely drives his car.
    Atticus is a true underdog. Many people in Maycomb despise him when he defends Tom Robinson--not because he takes the case but because he actually "aims to defend him." He accepts the case knowing he cannot win, instead hoping to later free Tom on appeal. He cannot win by totally destroying Mayella Ewell, since she is the battered woman and a pathetic case. If he fights back against Bob Ewell, he will lower himself to Ewell's "white trash" status. Even at the end of the story, he is willing to allow Jem to accept blame for Bob Ewell's death and defend him against a possible public outcry in order to avoid involving Boo.
    But like most underdogs, the reader is bound to pull for Atticus in spite of his "faults."

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