What are some situations in To Kill A Mockingbird where Atticus shows his morals and values?

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schulzie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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There are many situations in the book where Atticus uses the situation to teach a lesson to the children.

1. When Scout has trouble at school with Miss Caroline.  Atticus tells her,

"...if you learn a certain 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." (pg 30)

He repeats this lesson when Mr. Cunningham becomes part of the mob at the jail.  He tells the children,

"Mr. Cunningham's basically a good man...he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us......Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know--doesn't say much for them, does it?  .....you children last night made Walter Cunningham walk in my shoes for a minute.  That was enough." (pg 157)

2. When Scout asks him why he is defending a Negro, Atticus replies,

"The main one (reason) is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town.  I couldn't represent this county in the legislature. I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again." (pg 75)

3. Atticus is concerned that Scout will fight on the school grounds over this issue. He tells her,

"This time we aren't fighting Yankees, we're fighting our friends.  But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they're still our friends and this is still our home." (pg 76)

4.  Scout asks him again why he is defending Tom Robinson; she is concerned because everyone is saying that Atticus is wrong.  She thinks maybe he could be wrong.  Atticus explains to her,

"....before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." (pg 105)

5. When Mrs. Dubose dies, Atticus explains to the children why he had Jem read to her. She had been a morphine addict and was determined to die drug free. She did. He tells them,

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." ( pg 112)

That is what Atticus did concerning the Tom Robinson case.

6. After the trial was over, and Tom Robinson was sentenced to death, Jem was very upset.  Atticus explained to both Jem and Scout,

"He (Atticus)  said he didn't have any quarrel with the rape statute, none whatever, but he did have deep misgivings when the state asked for and the jury gave a death penalty on purely circumstantial evidence....before a man is sentenced to death for murder, say, there should be one or two eye-witnesses." (pg 219)

7. After Jem is attacked, Atticus tells Sheriff Tate that he wants Jem to take the consequences.  Sheriff Tate informs him that Jem didn't do anything wrong. Atticus tells the sheriff,

"Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him....if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn't meet his eye, and the day I can't do that I'll know I've lost him." (pg 273)

Finally, in the last chapter, the last page, Scout is telling Atticus about this story he was reading to her.  She said that the main character ends up a really nice person.  Atticus responds with,

"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." (pg 281)

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