Author Harper Lee provides the reader with plenty of Finch family background in the opening chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird. We learn that the Finches are one of the oldest families in the Maycomb area, where their ancestors established the Finch Landing plantation nearly a century before. We find that Atticus has been educated at home, and that he put his brother, Jack, through medical school. We also learn about the Radley family, which becomes one of the main topics in the first half of the novel.
Although Jem and Scout grow up without a mother (who died of a heart attack when Scout was still a baby), Atticus provides a home life full of love and understanding. He employs Calpurnia, a black woman, as their maid, and she provides a strict mothering touch, helping to educate the children and teaching them right from wrong. Atticus spends time reading with Scout each night and, although there are few signs of extravagance in this Depression era Alabama household, the children have all the necessities of life. Atticus allows the children a great deal of independence, but he is strict when he has to be. His own high moral standards are always evident, and the children follow his lead, trying to emulate him in many ways. Their desire to command Atticus' respect is in direct response to his parental skills and moral character.