What are some character traits of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird? How are they illustrated in the novel?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus Finch is one of the most famous literary characters known. Harper Lee goes to great detail to show us the kind of man he is. Jem and Scout don't see their father as anything special in the beginning, but we the readers, see from the very start, that Atticus is one of a kind.

Atticus is kind and fair. He is stern, but also very loving. He treats his children with respect and talks to them like they are adults. He answers all of their questions with honesty. He is always consistent, and doesn't waiver in his beliefs. Atticus is seen as the moral backbone in Maycomb. He fights for justice and teaches his children to do the same thing.

When Atticus takes the case of Tom Robinson, the town starts talking about him defending a black man. Jem and Scout hear this talk and ask Atticus about it, and he answers them in the most beautiful way, to teach them that you have to live with yourself first.

"They're entitled to think that, they're entitled to full respect for their opinions. But before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." 

Atticus is telling his children that he has to live with what his choices are before he please anyone else. He fights for the rights of people who are cheated. Atticus knows that Tom will never get a fair trial, because he is black, but he works his hardest and proves that the man is innocent. After Tom is convicted, Atticus tries to teach his children that there will always be people that treat black men wrong and that is not right.

"As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men everyday of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."

Every so often, you run across a character, that will always stay with you. That is the true art of a writer. Harper Lee did her job with the character of Atticus Finch. He will live in our lives as if we really know him.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus is a pleasantly complex character. He is a responsible and loving father, a man who concentrates on essences, not externals, a brave man, and a clear and ethical thinker. (Can you tell I approve of him?)


You can see these qualities throughout the book. He faces a rabid dog (brave, responsible). He sees Scout for who she is, not what the community thinks girls should be. He defends African Americans when the community says he should not, and so on.

zumba96 | Student

Atticus is responsible and kind and cares for his children. He also upholds very strong morals that he instills in his kids. Atticus is the only one who will properly take up Tom's case with the proper information. Atticus does not want an innocent man to go to jail and he wants to love everyone and believes discrimination is bad. 

amandagracecash4 | Student

i have a question:

This is about Atticus Finch

how did the way he speak about Boo Radley, the Cunninghams, and the ewells

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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