What bad quality is shown about Atticus when Scout says "... he was trying to do but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to that kind of work."i am struggling with an essay subtopic and i...

What bad quality is shown about Atticus when Scout says "... he was trying to do but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to that kind of work."

i am struggling with an essay subtopic and i need one more bad parenting quality of atticus. as you can see... i have got the quote but i dont know what it proves... can this mean that atticus is a bad parent because he doesnt pay attention to his children but i cant say this in my essay because my teacher wants an ajective to describe his parenting.

plz help.

thanks and im looking forward to your answers!

Expert Answers
carolkaz34 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting topic!  The quote you have pulled is a great example of how one character in the book thinks that perhaps Atticus is not a good parent.  Another example would be Miss Caroline who gets angry tha Scout is so far ahead of her classmates because Atticus has taught her to read.

Atticus' sister also thinks he is a bad parent because he does not make Scout wear dresses and learn housekeeping and try to break her tom-boy habits.

Other characters think Atticus is a bad parent, but that is only their perspective.  What do you think?  Is he a bad parent?  Would you say that he is irresponsible because he is absent? Some adjectives to go with this thesis would be guilty, liable, or answerable.

Or would you say that he is the opposite - responsible and trustworthy and simply doing the best he knows how as a single parent?  Scout and Jem seem to think he is a wonderful parent and there is certainly a case to be made for that too.  You might then say he is conscientious, reliable, and sensible.

I hope that helps!  Please post if you have other questions and we can keep "talking."  :)

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't really see this as an example of Atticus' bad parenting; I believe Scout is actually trying to compliment her father. The above quote concerns Atticus' attempts to back Alexandra's plea for the children to begin acting more like Finches. Atticus gives Jem and Scout a lecture on "gentle breeding," but since he has previously informed the children of their true family history (including their cousin who had tried to kill the college president), they are not quick to accept this revised version. Jem and Scout know that Alexandra has bullied Atticus into this action, and Scout eventually starts to cry. When Atticus gives up on his lecture, Scout knows "he had come back to us." Atticus is attempting to take a feminine approach to his parenting--demanding that the kids act more like ladylike and gentlemanly--but his effort has plainly failed. "It takes a woman to do that kind of work" is Scout's recognition that Atticus is incapable of such a transformation.

carrie-crawford | Student


Well, you've posed a good question here. I'm not sure that Atticus was a bad parent at all, but your teacher is definitely getting you to think. Atticus was "just a man" and we are all "just men" so with that being said he is open to flaws. All men are messed up and not able to do any one thing perfectly. Think about Atticus...he allowed his children to call him by his first name and fight (although he didn't want Scout to fight she never really suffered any "real" punishment for doing so). Those can be flaws as a parent. He is a father and not a mother. Who is the mother figure in their household? What does she do that Atticus doesn't. That could be a flaw as well. Hope this helps!


Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question