Compared to the other fathers in the neighborhood, Atticus, in the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, is old. He is nearly fifty, and his children feel that he is “feeble.”
“When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness.” (pg 89)
Atticus would play games with the children, but when Jem, who loved football, wanted to play football with him, Atticus would back off and say that he was too old for that. They felt that he didn’t do anything that would lead children to admire him as a father.
“Atticus did not drive a dump-truck for the county, he was not the sheriff, he did not farm, work in a garage, or do anything that could possibly arouse the admiration of anyone.” (pg 89)
He did not do the things that other fathers did. He did not go hunting or fishing. He also did not drink or smoke. He just read a lot. Even when they got their air guns, their uncle had to teach them how to use them. Atticus would not.
When the children tell Miss Maudie how disappointed they are that their father cannot do a lot of things, she tells them that Atticus is very good at certain things. He can write a good will, play a great game of checkers, and play the Jew ’s Harp. The children are not impressed. They beat Atticus all the time at checkers. That is why they are so impressed when Atticus kills the mad dog, and they learn that he has a reputation in the town as “One Shot Finch.” Miss Maudie tells them,
“Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew’s Harp, Atticus Finch was the deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time.” (pg98)