What does Atticus Finch do for a living in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Atticus Finch is a well-respected lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama.  He is chosen to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell.  The Finches are a well-established family in Maycomb and have the respect of its citizens.  He is probably the one person who will have a chance to save Tom from going to prison.  He saves Tom from a lynching mob one night, and it is because of the town's respect for him, and with a little bit of help from Scout, that he is able to diffuse the mob from carrying out their plan.  More importantly, Atticus is respected by the black community.  Even though he is unsuccessful in his defense of Tom Robinson, the black community understands that Atticus tries to give Tom the best defense to prove his innocence.  As Atticus leaves the courtroom, the black community stands up in the balcony as he passes to show their respect.  Atticus is a symbol of changing values in the South because of his empathy and regard for all people.