In Scout's eyes, what is Atticus's chief fault in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Scout finds fault with her father, Atticus, in many ways at the beginning of Chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird. She finds him "feeble," partly because he is much older--Atticus is nearly 50--than the fathers of their other friends. She thinks his advanced age reflects on his "abilities and manliness." Atticus is too old to play football with Jem, and he can't "do anything." He wears glasses and is nearly blind in his left eye. Additionally, he doesn't hunt, smoke, drink, fish or play poker. All he does is "sit in the livingroom and read." In short, Atticus is boring.

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poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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In many ways, Scouts considers her father's lack of robust physicality to be one of his greatest faults, a flaw which she refers to as him being "feeble."

At almost fifty years of age, Atticus is too old to allow his son to tackle him during a football game, and his lack of a job that requires physical labor bothers Scout, who claims, "Our father didn't do anything." She considers his "late start" in parenting to be a reflection of his manliness and even considers his glasses (worn to accommodate the near blindness of his left eye) to be a blight upon his reputation. Atticus does not hunt, play poker, fish, drink, or smoke like the other children's fathers; this choice to abstain from the common pursuits of men makes Scout believe that Atticus compares unfavorably to the other fathers of Maycomb. 

Despite this youthful skepticism, Scout comes to realize that her father is a heroic, steadfast man who fights on the behalf of those in need. His work on Tom Robinson's trial and his continued pursuit of racial justice shrouds Atticus in a much more favorable light in his daughter's eyes.

 

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

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout truly respects her father, but she finds fault with him in certain areas of his life. She considers her father to be old and inactive. She states that he does not do the things other fathers do:

He did not do the things our schoolmates' fathers did: he never went hunting, he did not play poker or fish or drink or smoke. He sat in the living room and read.

Scout considers her father inadequate in some ways. "He wore glasses," she stated. She indicated that he was handicapped somewhat because he could not see well out of his left eye.

Clearly, Scout did not realize her father's work was serious work simply because she did not consider it to be physical work:

Our father didn't do anything. He worked in an office, not in a drugstore. 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.

Scout speaks her mind. Scout is a tough, tomboy type of girl. She appreciates a good fight, and she proves that she loves her father in spite of his faults, for she will scuffle with someone who criticizes him.

By the end of the novel, Scout is deeply proud of her father. She finally realizes how important his work is. She finds him to be courageous for standing up for Tom Robinson. She learns that her father is brave in the midst of an angry town that does not approve of Atticus defending a black man. She sees her father as a man who has good character, decency, and honest qualities. For this reason, she has come to truly admire him more and more.

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