How is Atticus portrayed as both a father and an employer in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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afi80fl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus can be seen as a compassionate, loving, and protective father in the novel.  He allows the children to make mistakes, discusses their problems with them, and is slow to become angry or lash out at them physically.  For example, when Scout says she wants to quit school because the new teacher says Atticus has taught her to "read the wrong way", Atticus calmly tells her about the idea of a compromise, agreeing to read with her secretly in exchange for her continued attendance.  This is stark contrast to Uncle Jack, who spanked her abruptly for fighting with her cousin, rather than listening to her very valid reason (her cousin's racial slur). 

As an employer, he is nothing but compassionate; he offers Calpurnia a ride home when it's dark, or she feels somewhat threatened by Mr. Ewell.  He treats her with respect, even referring to her as part of the family when Scout complains that she's too strict, mean, and should be let go.  Most importantly, perhaps, is his willingness to trust her without reservations.  Most men of the time period would have had a difficult time allowing the children to attend a Negro church, but Atticus has no problems with this, as he believes Mayella will look after them.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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