How is the character of Atticus presented in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

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Harper Lee's creation of Atticus Finch has become one of the most recognizable and beloved characters in all of American fiction. Humble, honest and determined to treat everyone he meets with respect, Atticus serves as the conscience of Maycomb. He is the man that people come to for advice (or legal representation) when they have a problem, and he is one of the

"... men who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us."

He serves as Maycomb's representative in the Alabama state legislature, running unopposed in each election. The people of Maycomb realize there is no better man to serve their town, and Atticus, a born and bred Maycombian,

... was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town.

A single parent, Atticus allows his children a great degree of independence, believing they will learn life's lessons through their own experiences, and hoping that

"... Jem and Scout will come to me for their answers... I hope they trust me enough."

As an attorney, Atticus has no peers. Among real-life lawyers,

     "Atticus has become something of a folk hero in legal circles and is treated almost as if he were an actual person."
     "No real-life lawyer has done more for the self-image or public perception of the legal profession..."

His portrayal by Gregory Peck (who won the Oscar for Best Actor) in the film version of the novel earned Atticus the distinction of being named the #1 "greatest hero in American film" by the American Film Institute.

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