Explain Atticus's statement in To Kill a Mockingbird: "When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sakes. But don't make a production of it. Children are children...This quote comes...

Explain Atticus's statement in To Kill a Mockingbird: "When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sakes. But don't make a production of it. Children are children...

This quote comes in Chapter 9 and goes on to say that  "Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults..."

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Atticus's words actually speak for itself. It is just another way of explaining his belief that's it's always best to tell the truth and be honest with his children when they come to him for answers. Atticus's response comes after his brother, Jack, tells him that Scout had come to him with a question he decided was best left honestly unanswered.

"... she asked me what a whore-lady was..."
     "Did you tell her?"
     "No, I told her about Lord Melbourne."  (Chapter 9)

Atticus's little lecture to his brother shows a much greater understanding of children than Jack. Atticus recognizes that a truthful answer works best with children, who can more clearly see an "evasion"--a lie--than adults. Atticus proves his point in a later chapter when Scout asks him

     "What's rape?"
     ... He sighed and said rape was carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent.
     "Well if that's all it is why did Calpurnia dry me up when I asked her what it was?"  (Chapter 14)

Atticus's direct answer, in typical legalese, is truthful and to the point--and one which was above Scout's comprehension, but which sufficiently satisfied her curiosity. She quickly went on to another subject, just as Atticus had explained to Jack.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Be honest with children at all times by telling them the truth. 

As was mentioned in the previous post, Atticus gives this advice to his brother, Uncle Jack, in Chapter 9. Unlike Atticus, Uncle Jack does not have any children and does not honestly answer Scout whenever she asks him what a "whore-lady" is. Throughout the novel, Atticus is always honest with his children. They come to him with various questions and are confident that their father will tell them the truth. Atticus answers his children honestly and explains various explicit terms such as "rape" and "nigger-lover". Atticus also tells his brother that children realize when adults are lying or evading an answer. For instance, when Jem is not pleased with Nathan Radley's answer regarding why he filled the knothole of the tree with cement, he goes to Atticus for answers. Jem understands that Atticus will not lie to him and has faith in his father's honesty. 

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