How does Atticus show that he is a man of integrity at the end of To Kill A Mockingbird?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee exposes the contradictory and hypocritical nature of people. The folks of Maycomb County will convict the innocent Tom Robinson of a crime he did not commit, accusing him, just based on his race, of being an "immoral being," which, for them, basically confirms his guilt. Despite the compelling evidence which Atticus will put forward, Tom has already been judged and the evidence is apparently immaterial in proving his guilt or innocence.  

Atticus remains steadfast throughout To Kill A Mockingbird, always reminding his children not to criticize another person or form conclusions without taking another's point of view into account and unless they "climb into his skin and walk around in it." It is in Atticus's nature to defend the actions of others, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, never accepting that anyone would maliciously malign another. It is because they "knew no better." 

At the end of the novel, amid tragic circumstances, Atticus will still maintain his stance on guilt and innocence, a main theme throughout. It is Atticus's superior communication skills and insight that allow him to recognize the value of discussion and the value of each person's opinion, regardless of how unreasonable it may first appear. Whilst reading to Scout about a boy falsely accused, it becomes obvious that tensions rise because people do not "see" each other or take the time to understand each other. If they did, it would soon become obvious that "Most people are (real nice), once you see them," or listen to their perspective on something. Despite everything, Atticus has not lost his faith in human nature and his integrity remains intact. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the people in the balcony of the courtroom--"the colored section"--stand as Atticus traverses the corridor to the door, when the jury actually deliberate on the verdict for Tom Robinson, when the reprobate Bob Ewell spits in his face at the court house square, when Mr. Underwood, who is known for "hating Negroes"--writes his editorial, and when his sister Alexandra hears Miss Merriweather say, 

"I tell you there are some good, but misguided people in this town. Good, but misguided;

when Miss Maudie tells Alexandra,

"Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right."

and, finally, when Sheriff Heck Tate has to convince Atticus that Jem really did not stab Bob Ewell and he is not just trying to help the Finches by saying that, Atticus Finch not only demonstrates his integrity, but also has this integrity reaffirmed by the community.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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