What is Atticus's relationship with Maycomb like in the book To Kill a Mockingbird?

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sydneyr0se eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the character Atticus Finch epitomizes justice, fairness, and nobility. Atticus Finch is an attorney and the father of Jem and Scout in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. He is an extremely well-respected man in the community, and people know him to be honest, humble, generous, and fair. An important point to understand about Maycomb is that it is a small, tight-knit community full of multiple generations of families. It is the type of town where businesses and homes are passed down to family, and people who are born there typically stay there to raise their own families. Atticus is well known because his family has been an integral part of the Maycomb community for many years.

The book takes place in the South during the 1930s, when racial tensions were high. Almost half of African American people did not have jobs, and all faced awful discrimination as well as racial violence. Atticus is a man who, despite many of the white folks' opinions, treats African Americans with respect and dignity. The main storyline in the novel deals with Atticus representing a black man named Tom Robinson, who was accused of beating and raping a white woman, in court. Atticus believes that the accusation is a lie and agrees to represent him fairly in court even though Tom Robinson cannot afford the lawyer fee. This was not typical during this time. When African American people were accused of a crime, they were typically found guilty and convicted even if they did not commit a crime. Many white lawyers refused to represent African Americans in court because of their own prejudices or because of how their community would perceive them. For Atticus, it is more important to expose the truth and be fair to Tom Robinson. His integrity and need to uphold the law by being fair and true outweigh the risk of the backlash. This causes many of the townspeople to dislike Atticus (as he expected), but Atticus is the type of man who will always do what he thinks is right regardless of other peoples' opinions. Because of this, many people in Maycomb respect Atticus even if they don't always agree with his practices.

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee created an amazing character in Atticus Finch. His name is synonymous with all things good and right. The people of Maycomb respected him and what he had to say. He was well liked. Atticus was the town attorney and also Maycomb's representative in the Alabama state legislature in Montgomery. He also ran unopposed, and this goes to show us what kind of man he was, and how well he knew his town and people. Atticus was a fair and just man. He often took cases for people who couldn't afford to pay him cash, so he accepted crops in exchange for his services. In chapter one, we see exactly the relationship Atticus has with Maycomb.

He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; He knew he people, they knew him, and because of Simon Finch's industry, Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town.

By being born and raised in Maycomb, Atticus is trusted by the townspeople. Although some of the people talk badly about Atticus when he takes the case of Tom Robinson, the people still hold a deep respect for him. It is not just the white people who respect him, the black community respects him as well. Atticus just knew the people of Maycomb, and he never acted like he was ever any better than anyone else, and this is a character trait he passed on to his children. Atticus Finch is a character who will live forever, thanks to the remarkable Harper Lee. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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