To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus demonstrate strength and self-restraint when he walks away from Bob Ewell after Ewell spits in his face? How can this show of strength be used to teach children that real strength comes from walking away from a fight and help undo the the false yet prevalent belief that "if someone hits you, you hit them back" to show that you are not weak?

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s creates a strong character in Atticus Finch—a good father and a decent man. While his methods are non-traditional (to Aunt Alexandra's chagrin), Atticus sets up guidelines that he expects the kids to follow. His actions are courteous and honorable. This method of child-rearing is so effective that the children would rather be smacked than stare into the face of Atticus’ disappointment in them.

Atticus is a man of positive action. When the lynch mob shows up at the jail to take Tom Robinson, Atticus is armed with nothing more than a chair, a light and a newspaper. He believes not in force, but in reasoning with people.

Atticus speaks to Heck Tate at the end of the story when Atticus believes Jem has stabbed Bob Ewell and that Heck is trying to fix things so Jem won’t get in trouble.

I don’t want [Jem] growing up with a whisper about him, I don’t want anybody saying, ‘Jem Finch…his daddy paid a mind to get him out of that.’

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