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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, a single father, is very aware of how the environment may affect his children and he has a huge influence on them, even though sometimes life may appear ordinary: ""With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.". He therefore makes sure that they understand what it is like to "climb into his (another man's) skin and walk around in it." Despite knowing that he can never win in his attempts to defend Tom Robinson, Atticus, "the bravest man in the world," is willing to face the wrath of Maycomb County residents in doing the right thing and doing his best for Tom.
Atticus has a respect for children and their place in the family and that is evident in his treatment of them:
"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults."
Scout is struggling in the face of criticism in school and wants to do as her father asks although she finds it very difficult as she wants to defend her father's image:
"You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat."
Aunt Alexander has a completely different approach to children than Atticus but she values family and also wants to ensure that the children receive guidance, especially in the absence of their mother:
"As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."
Bob Ewell is apparently not a very good father and everyone makes allowances for him as otherwise his children suffer. Atticus stresses:
"...He'll never change his ways. Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?"
The children also come to realize that, as Jem knows:
"Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
Therefore, the reader is constantly reminded about how family is often less than perfect but it is essential in any community and, in fact, it is the responsibility of every member of the community to protect and not to judge others.
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