How does Harper Lee put emphasis on the importance of parental influence in her book To Kill a Mockingbird?I know there is a contrast between Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch, but are there any more...

How does Harper Lee put emphasis on the importance of parental influence in her book To Kill a Mockingbird?

I know there is a contrast between Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch, but are there any more 'subtle' details that might further promote the image of parental influence?

Asked on by icalebkim

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Of course, there is the contrast between Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch. Ewell is a terrible role model as a parent. He lies. Therefore, Mayella lies, even while under oath. Ewell has taught Mayella to be deceitful. She has no mercy on Tom Robinson. She falsely accuses him of rape. Ultimately, she sends an innocent man to his death. No doubt, Bob Ewell is a terrible father and is also disrespected by the community:

Bob Ewell is despised by Maycomb society as a shiftless drunkard. He is unable to keep a job, spends all his relief moneyon alcohol, and traps animals outside of hunting season. He provides little support to his large, motherless family, and is reputed to beat his children (and perhaps sexually abuse them too, as Mayella's testimony hints). 

While Atticus Finch is an excellent role model, there is a question as to what sort of parent Boo Radley's father was. Boo has been raised by a man the whole community disrespected. Boo's father no doubt was abusive to Boo. That could explain why Boo Radley stabbed his father with scissors. 

Despite his history of being abused by his father, Boo is revealed to be a gentle soul through his unseen acts: the gifts he leaves in the tree; his mending of Jem's torn pants; the blanket he puts around Scout the night of the fire; and finally, his rescue of the children from Bob Ewell' s murderous attack. 

The Boo the children come to know would have never done such a thing as stab his father had he not been provoked. 

There is also a question about what type of parents Dill has. He claims that they do not care about him. Of course, he could be exaggerating or falsely accusing his parents, but Dill does seem to be experiencing a lack of love by his parents. He runs away from home; therefore, there has to be some type of problem with his parents:

Seemingly ignored (but not neglected) by his parents, Dill enjoys his yearly visits to his aunt, Rachel Haverford, who lives next door to the Finches—he even runs away from home one summer to come to Maycomb.

Truly, Atticus Finch is an exemplary parent. Jem and Scout are fortunate to have such a father. He is a loving father. He spends time with his children, even though he is busy. He takes time to read to them. He teaches them to respect all people. The small town of Maycomb could use more parents like Atticus finch:

As a father Atticus is affectionate with Jem and Scout, ready with a hug when they need comfort and available to spend time reading to them. Although he allows his children freedom to play and explore, he is also a firm disciplinarian, always teaching his children to think of how their actions affect others and devising punishments to teach his children valuable lessons.

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