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What do you think of the way Atticus treats Walter in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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warrior608 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:38 PM via web

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What do you think of the way Atticus treats Walter in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:02 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the way Atticus treats Walter shows that he respects people of all kinds, including children and the poor.  It also shows that he can get along well with almost everyone, and is knowledgeable on many subjects.

While Walter piled food on his plate, he and Atticus talked together like two men, to the wonderment of Jem and me. (ch 3, pg. 24)

Atticus is able to talk to Walter about farming.  He also treats him like a grown man, as Scout notes.  When Walter asks for molasses to pour on his dinner, Atticus doesn’t skip a beat, although it upsets Scout.  Walter is company, and Atticus treats him that way.  It does not matter to him that Walter is a child, or that he is only the son of a poor farmer.  To Atticus, people are people.

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warrior608 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:11 PM (Answer #2)

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thank you so much @litteacher8

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 17, 2015 at 7:16 PM (Answer #4)

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Atticus treats Walter with the same courtesy and consideration that he shows to everyone, regardless of age, color, creed, or family background. Walter Cunningham's family is extremely poor, which might lead others in the town to snub him and look down on him, but not Atticus. Atticus's treatment of Walter is just one of the many instances in the novel which illustrate his sterling qualities. He treats everyone equally and fairly. He has sound moral principles that he continually puts into practice.

Atticus's attitude towards Walter of course contrasts sharply with that of his sister, Alexandra. Alexandra is constantly preoccupied with family heritage and status and looks down on Walter for being "trash." Scout finds this out when she wants to play with Walter and is strictly forbidden by her aunt to do so. Not that Alexandra doesn't want Scout to be nice to him—she just doesn't want her niece to mix with someone whom she considers to be beneath the Finch family's dignity. Alexandra's snobbish attitude is probably more representative of Maycomb attitudes as a whole than Atticus's more enlightened outlook. 

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