Dolphus Raymond tells Scout,"Your pa is not a run-of-the-mill man." Explain what you think he means by this.Also, give detailed reference to Atticus' words and actions,  to show that it is true.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Primarily, Mr. Raymond refers to the integrity of Atticus Finch, who despite the "disease of Maycomb," its racial prejudice, accepts the assignment of defending Tom Robinson against the accusations of a white woman.  He does this knowing that he will be personally subjected to ridicule while realizing that his children will be subject to insults and ridicule, as well.

In all his actions, Atticus displays a sterling character.  Even though Mrs. Dubose insults Atticus, calling him a "n-lover," he is a gentleman to her, speaking to her daily.  He makes Jem repay the old woman for cutting her flowers by reading to her after school and on Saturdays.  When, in anger against Miss Caroline, Scout suggests that she could not attend school just as the Ewell children do, rather than disparage the Ewells, Atticus diplomatically explains that the

Ewells were members of an exclusive society made up of Ewells. In certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming clean to some of the Ewells' activities.

Then, Atticus explains that Scout is "of the common folk," and "must obey the law."  Then, the wise and judicious Atticus applies this "agreement reached by mutual concessions" to Scout's situation.  He tells her,

'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?'

That he is judicious with his own family is evidenced after the "disaster" that occurs when Scout's relatives come for Christmas dinner.  When her cousin Francis hurls invectives at her and about Atticus, Scouts retaliates and is spanked by her uncle Jack.  Scout tells her uncle,

'You never stopped to gimme a chance to tell you my side of it--you just lit right into me.  When Jem an' I fuss Atticus doesn't ever just listen to Jem's side of it, er hears mine, too'....

Atticus Finch proves repeatedly that he is a Christian in the true sense of the word, not like the sanctimonious fundamentalists who quote scripture to Miss Maudie outside her house.  He is a model of tolerance and understanding. He charitably tells the children not to bother the Radleys and metaphorically explains that "it is a sin to kill a mockingbird."    When Tom Robinson, one of the "mockingbirds" of the novel is in prison and the angry mob wants to serve their "justice" upon him, Atticus places himself between the mob and Tom's jail cell, insisting that Tom have a fair trial.  Of course, at the actual trial, Atticus does everything that he can to service justice.  The crowd in the balcony realizes this and everyone stands when Atticus leaves the courtroom.

At the end of the novel, the sheriff, Heck Tate, says, "Mister Finch, hold on...Jem never stabbed Bob Ewell."  To this, Atticus replies,

'Heck it's mighty kind of you and I know you're doing it from that good heart of yours, but don't start anything like that.'

Again, with this sense of fairness, Atticus here asks for no favors for his son, believing that Jem has committed a serious act. He tells the sheriff.

'I don't want him growing up with a whisper about him, I don't want anybody saying, 'Jem Finch ...his daddy paid a mint to get him out of that.'  Sooner we get this over with the better....Heck, I can't live one way in town and another way in my home.

Truly, Atticus Finch is a man committed to his principles.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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