How does Atticus change Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus Finch opens Scout's mind and heart to what secrets lie in human nature.

In the evenings, Atticus holds Scout on his lap, where she has learned to read the Mobile Register with him at night. As she sits with her father, Scout feels secure and content. She even gains some confidence from her reading about adult matters.

When Jem and Dill try to communicate with the ghostly Boo Radley, Atticus scolds them and impresses upon them that they must leave Boo alone and respect people's privacy. Similarly, Atticus teaches Scout and her brother to be respectful of those who struggle secretly against private demons, such as Mrs. Dubose. By revealing the pain Mrs. Dubose has endured, Atticus teaches Scout to perceive her as a woman who is suffering so that she can die without regrets, tied to nothing, and with some dignity. After she dies, Atticus says,

I wanted you to see what real courage is . . . . It's when you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

Further, by means of his own conduct, Atticus directs Scout to have integrity and to be modest about her own talents, as he is about his excellent marksmanship. After her confrontations with Cecil and her cousin Francis, Atticus teaches Scout to be patient with people so that they will, hopefully, become comfortable enough to be honest about their feelings. Above all, Atticus demonstrates to Scout the high value of integrity and the respect one must have for the human value and rights of everyone, no matter one's social status or color. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus changes Scout from a rough around the edges little girl to a maturing young adult.

Atticus is a good father to Scout because he teaches her how to interact with others.  He teaches her empathy.  Most importantly of all, he teaches her to regard all people as special and respect them for what kind of person they are, not where they came from.

Atticus is a good role model. This is evidenced from the fact that Judge Taylor chooses him to defend Tom Robinson, and he is the one who shoots the mad dog.   Miss Maudie tells Scout that, “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets” (ch 5).  Atticus instills in Scout the wisdom of an adult from a young age.

It is important to Atticus that Scout learn how to interact with people.

[If] you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. (ch 3)

Atticus wants to teach Scout empathy. He wants her to be able to look at things from another person's perspective.  Scout does learn this, and it is how she is able to connect with Boo Radley.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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