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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what qualities make Atticus so outstanding as a father and as...

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dolly-paton | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 31, 2009 at 2:08 PM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what qualities make Atticus so outstanding as a father and as an employer?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 31, 2009 at 2:40 PM (Answer #1)

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Atticus feels a deep responsibility for his children, for keeping them safe, making sure they are well educated, and rearing them so that they are strong in character as well as in body. Atticus teaches them by example. He is honest and fair, teaching them the value of those qualities. He treats others with compassion and respect, and makes sure that Jem and Scout know how important it is to do so. At one point toward the conclusion of the novel, Atticus makes it clear to the children how he scorns any man who would take advantage of others. Atticus teaches his children courage by taking Tom Robinson's case. He explains to them that he could not respect himself or worship God if he did not try to help Tom. On numerous occasions, such as the time he breaks up the children's Radley "play," Atticus emphasizes Boo's right to privacy and respect. Atticus is somewhat reserved in displaying affection, but there is no doubt about the depth of his love for Jem and Scout. At the end of the novel after Bob Ewell's horrible attack on his children, Atticus tucks Scout in, then goes to Jem's room where Scout knows he will sit with Jem all night until he wakes up in the morning to find his father with him.  

As an employer, it says everything about Atticus that he does not consider Calpurnia to be an employee. According to Atticus, Cal is part of the family, and he treats her as one of their family. On one occasion, Alexandra tells Atticus there are certain things he should not say at the dinner table in front of Calpurnia. He dismisses this idea. On another occasion, Alexandra pushes Atticus to dismiss Calpurnia, saying they don't need her anymore. Furthermore, Alexandra does not think Calpurnia is a fit person to raise the children. Atticus strongly objects and refuses to let Cal go. He knows, and says, that she is important to him and the children and that they could not get by one day without her. Furthermore, Atticus says Cal's "lights" are good, meaning her values, insights, and judgment are sound in guiding Jem and Scout.  

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