How does Atticus allow his children to develop their own personalities in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus does not keep as tight a rein on his children as most parents do. Jem and Scout grow up without a mother in a single-parent household, although Calpurnia does display a strictness often not found in Atticus. He allows Scout to wear overalls and live the life of a tomboy, realizing that she will probably grow out of it one day; there is plenty of time for her to become a lady as she gets older. The children spend most of the time on their own, since Atticus works and is often out of town on weekends. They have most the neighborhood as their playground, and the children intimately know most of their neighbors. Atticus gives his children advice, and he hopes they abide by it, but he rarely makes demands that restrict their own independence. His punishments are rare, and he usually discusses their mistakes in a rational manner, explaining why they are wrong. Though he threatens to spank them, the children know he never will, and Jem reminds Scout that he wants to keep it that way. He allows them to return to the courtroom for the end of the trial because "it is their home... We've made it this way for them, they might as well learn to cope with it." As he had told his brother Jack earlier, "I hope they trust me enough."

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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