One of the best examples of Atticus showing honesty and integrity is on the night his two children are attacked by Bob Ewell. As Sheriff Tate explains the evidence that he finds, Atticus thinks that Jem is the one who kills Mr. Ewell. Atticus is fully prepared to defend Jem in court on the basis of self-defense because he isn't the type of person to cover up the truth, even if his own son is involved. When Sheriff Tate suggests that Mr. Ewell died by falling on his knife, Atticus thinks it's an offer to cover up the situation, and he says the following:
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I don't want my boy starting out with something like this over his head. Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open. Let the county come and bring sandwiches. 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'" (273).
Atticus is a wise parent in the above passage because he leads his children by example. If Jem were not in bed with a broken arm during this discussion, he would have heard his father planning to stand him up before the whole town and taking responsibility for the death of Mr. Ewell. Atticus is not the kind to keep secrets or cover up information because that is not the way to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Furthermore, Atticus knows how the people of Maycomb gossip, never forget, and hold grudges; therefore, if the town knows the truth from the beginning, then Atticus hopes that Jem will be safe from future allegations. By facing the situation head on, and walking Jem through the judicial process, Atticus would teach by example that facing one's problems is the right thing to do even if it is the most difficult thing he has to do. Fortunately, neither Atticus nor Jem has to face anything because Jem didn't kill Mr. Ewell. If he had, though, Atticus would have faced it with Jem with honesty and integrity.