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How do I respond to the essay question: "Defend Atticus as a model father" from To Kill...

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted May 20, 2013 at 5:44 PM via web

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How do I respond to the essay question: "Defend Atticus as a model father" from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2013 at 6:03 PM (Answer #1)

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Defending Atticus as a model father will require giving examples of him being a good father, such as advice he gives his children.

When you are asked to defend a statement about a book, it means defend the statement with evidence from the text in the form of examples and quotations.  You will want to also define what you mean by “model father.” 

A model is someone that others should notice and base their own behavior off of.  So a model father is someone who is such a good father that other men should look at him as an example of how they should behave as fathers.

At first, Atticus does not seem to be a model father.  Scout describes him this way.

Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment. (ch 1)

Generally, “courteous detachment” is not what we would think of when we describe the model father.  A father is not supposed to be either courteous or detached!  He should love his children and care about them.  Yet as we learn more about Atticus, we see that while he is not the traditional father, he is a good father in many ways.

An example of Atticus as the model father is his reaction when Scout comes home from school not wanting to ever go back.  Some fathers would just tell her, “too bad” and go on reading the paper.  Others would yell, threaten, and punish her.  Atticus instead gives her a life-long lesson in empathy.

“"[If] you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-…"-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (ch 3)

Atticus is trying to explain to Scout that if she learns empathy, she will be a lot better off.  She won’t get into as many altercations and arguments with people.  This is an important part of growing up, and Atticus uses Scout not wanting to go back to school as a teaching vehicle for this important lesson.

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