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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus has three kinds of relationships with people based on three roles he assumes as a character. First, he is a father, and has a parental relationship with his children. Second, he is a widower but lifelong friend of Maudie Atkinson. And finally, he is a well-respected attorney in the town, and has a professional relationship with many of the other professionals in Maycomb.
As a father, Atticus is firm but patient, wise, and straightforward. He allows his children to call him "Atticus" rather than dad or father, and speaks to them like adults. This is obvious in his lesson with Scout about school and the art of "compromise":
...an agreement reached by mutual concessions. It works this way...if you'll concede the necessity of going to school, we'll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain? (31)
Further, Atticus is a lifelong friend to Miss Maudie Atkinson. Despite the fact that she is a woman and he is a man, and neither are married to one another, their relationship is not only above reproach, but one that is so intimate they act like brother and sister to one another. This is evidenced by the way they can pick on each other with mutual respect. When Jem and Scout create a snowman resembling both Mr. Avery and Miss Maudie, Atticus is able to see the humor in Miss Maudie's outbursts:
She's just fussing...She's really impressed with your--accomplishments (68).
Finally, Atticus is a well-respected attorney in the town of Maycomb, and as such, many come to him with an air of trust and comaraderie. Judge Taylor specifically chooses Atticus in the Tom Robinson trial, knowing Atticus will handle such a subject professionally. One night, Heck Tate, Link Deas, and a few others gather outside the Finch front door to discuss the trial and small town politics with Atticus. It is clear they are concerned for his safety. And finally, at the end of the novel, the sherriff shows again how much he trusts and respects Atticus when he is going over the events of the attack on Scout and Jem and insists on the story that "Bob Ewell fell on his knife" (273).
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