What do other characters say or think about Atticus Finch?-"To Kill a Mockingbird"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Various community members comment on Atticus Finch's character throughout the novel. The majority of the racist citizens believe that Atticus is wrong for defending Tom Robinson and have negative things to say about him. In chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs reiterates his parents' comments regarding Atticus by telling Scout,

"My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an‘ that nigger oughta hang from the water-tank!" (Lee 79).

Scout's cousin also reiterates his grandmother's negative comments regarding Atticus by telling Scout,

Just what I said. Grandma says it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin. He’s ruinin‘ the family, that’s what he’s doin’. (Lee, 85)

In chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose also expresses her negative feelings regarding Atticus by telling his children,

"Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for" (Lee, 105).

Despite the many citizens who dislike Atticus, there is also a faction of community members who support and respect him. As the citizens are taking their seats to watch Tom Robinson's trial, Scout overhears the men of the Idler's Club comment on her father's intelligence. They say,

"Atticus Finch’s a deep reader, a mighty deep reader" (Lee, 165).

When Scout takes Dill out of the courtroom to settle him down, she has a conversation with Dolphus Raymond, who elaborates on the prejudice throughout Maycomb's community. He comments on Atticus's character by telling Scout,

I don’t reckon it’s—Miss Jean Louise, you don’t know your pa’s not a run-of-the-mill man, it’ll take a few years for that to sink in—you haven’t seen enough of the world yet. (Lee, 205)

Following the trial, Miss Maudie shows her support and respect for Atticus by telling Jem and Scout,

I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them...We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us." (Lee, 219)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The characters in To Kill a Mockingbird  have various opinions about Atticus. Let me give a sample. 

First, if you ask his children, at the beginning of the book, they would say that there was nothing special about Atticus. In fact, they would probably point out his faults. He is old, nearly blind in one eye, not very athletic, and too bookish. Here is Scout's depiction of him:

Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. He was much older than the parents of our school contemporaries, and there was nothing Jem or I could say about him when our classmates said, “My father—”

During the trial of Tom Robinson, the black community looked at Atticus with respect. In one of my favorite parts in the book, the black community rises when Atticus passes by as a sign of respect.

I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Sykes’s voice was as distant as Judge Taylor’s: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin‘.”

Another valuable perspective comes from Miss Maudie. She views Atticus as a very special man, someone who has the courage to do what other neglect to do. Here is what Maudie says to Jem:

“I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial