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Atticus believes in allowing his children as much independence as possible, but he also wants them to get a good education and learn to behave in a proper manner. The children seem to recognize this, since
Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment. (Chapter 1)
Atticus knows it is best to allow the children plenty of time for themselves, and they respect his need for a bit of privacy each evening when he contentedly reads his paper in silence. Scout trusts Atticus completely, and when he talks her into returning to school after her awful first day in the first grade, he entices her with a "compromise."
"If you'll concede the necessity of going to school, we'll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain?"
"We'll consider it sealed without the usual formality," Atticus said, when he saw me preparing to spit. (Chapter 3)
Knowing that Scout is still upset, "Atticus kept us in fits that evening," entertaining the children with a story about a man who had decided to climb a flagpole and remain there for "no discernible reason." Although Scout's school days didn't get much better, she is quick to see that "Atticus was right" in suggesting their compromise.
Scout looks up to her father throughout the novel, and Atticus tries his best to set a good example for his children. He encourages Scout to be tolerant and continually reminds her to exercise discretion throughout her life. In Chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs makes several derogatory remarks towards Scout which upset her. When Scout gets home, Atticus has a conversation with her and says,
"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. Try fighting with your head for a change...it's a good one, even if it does resist learning" (Lee 48).
Scout also looks to her father for various answers throughout the novel. She trusts in Atticus' honesty, and he always answers her to the best of his ability. In Chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose makes several racist comments directed at Scout and Jem as they pass her home. Scout eventually asks her father what the term "nigger-lover" means. Atticus answers his daughter honestly and explains the racial slur by saying,
"nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything---like snot-nose. It's hard to explain---ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody" (Lee 68).
Atticus teaches Scout the importance of respect, tolerance, justice, and courage throughout the novel. Scout looks up to her father and listens to his advice. The two characters share a loving father-daughter relationship and Scout develops into a morally upright individual like her father.
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