What is parenthood and Atticus' role as a single father?What is parenthood and Atticus' role as a single father?
Parenthood could be defined as a parent's responsibilty to make sure that their children are safe, emotionally secure, physically healty, educated, mentally stable, and care for their over-all well-being. Atticus' role as a father was difficult because his wife had died. He taught his children by being a good role-model and demonstrated the morals and upright behavior he wanted each of them to posess. When Jem cut the flowers off Mrs. Dubose's flowers, he made Jem go to her house every afternood and read to her. This was so Jem could have a better understanding of who Mrs. Dubose was and why she acted the way she did. Atticus had to be mother and father to his children, Scout and Jem. He also made sure that they had strong females in the children's lives. Calpurnia and Aunt Alexander both helped Atticus raise the children to hopefully grow into responsible and caring adults.
I find it interesting that although Atticus can be seen as an ideal father in many respects he is viewed as irresponsible by some people, notably his sister Aunt Alexandra. And he is revealed as being rather too casual towards the end of the novel in his dismissal of the idea that his family is in any danger, despite the warning signs. They are indeed in great danger from Bob Ewell and it is only the intervention of Boo Radley that saves them. Atticus's easy trust in people is shown to be misplaced on this occasion and Alexandra's more questioning attitude is vindicated. Atticus's position at the end of the novel is ironic in this respect and also in the fact that he agrees to a legal cover-up regarding Bob Ewell's death. Thus the model parent and incorruptible lawyer shows in the same episode that he's not perfect.