To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus Finch resist gender stereotypes?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Atticus resists gender stereotypes by discussing the trial of Tom Robinson with Scout. Specifically, he gives Scout a definition of what constitutes rape, which is one of the crimes with which Tom has been charged. That said, Atticus uses a pretty legalistic definition of rape, referring to it as "carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent," an expression that Scout doesn't really understand.

Nevertheless, the very fact that Atticus is even discussing this matter with his daughter is quite unusual for the time. As Atticus points out, women aren't allowed to sit on a jury; this is presumably to spare them the sordid details of serious crimes such as rape. And before the trial of Tom Robinson gets underway, a motion is considered in court to prohibit women and children from attending proceedings. One can see, then, how Atticus's discussion of the case with Scout really does represent a challenge to traditional gender roles.

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While Atticus is an overtly masculine protagonist ,...

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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