What type of relationship do Atticus and Scout have?Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a father/daughter relationship of the 1930s, the relatioship of Atticus and Scout is very unconventional.  First of all, Jean-Louise is called "Scout" and is allowed to wear overalls at a time when little girls wore dresses almost all of the time. Then, too, Scout addresses her father by his first name, an action that in the 1930s would have been considered the height of disrespect.  Another unconventional aspect to the relatioship is that Scout does not feel that any topic is taboo; she unabashedly asks her father about rape or being a "nigger-lover," etc.  Thus, the father/daughter relationship of Atticus and Scout is truly avant-garde, just as avant-garde as Atticus's views on black people and poor people and other social pariahs in the town.

Transcending all these uncoventionalisms of their relatioship, is the deep love and respect that Atticus and Scout have for each other. For, Atticus always listens to his daughter and teaches her in a kind manner, never derogating her.  For example, when she asks about his being a "nigger-lover," he simply answers, "Don't say that.  It's common" [common meaning lower-class] When Scout recounts the proceedings of the trial, she proudly relates the acute insight of Atticus:

Atticus sometimes said that one way to tell whether a witness was lying or telling the truth was to listen rather than watch:  I applied his test....

Loving child and loving father, Scout and Atticus are also good friends who can talk freely to one another.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Other than the obvious parent-child relationship, I think their relationship can be described in a variety of ways.

Understanding - Atticus realizes that Scout feels certain ways and lets her continue in them.

Compromising - When Scout struggles in school with reading (because Miss Caroline wants to fix her reading) Atticus agrees that they can keep reading at home, Miss Caroline just doesn't need to know about it.

Disciplining - Atticus doesn't let the kids get away with making fun of the Radleys and he requires Scout not to fight. She respectfully complies.

Adult-like - Atticus doesn't hide from the tough issues with his daughter. When she asks what rape is as an 8 year-old, he tells her plainly that it is carnal knowledge of a woman by force and without consent. He uses this language I think because it will satisfy her curiosity but the vocabulary might trip her up enough that she doesn't ask anything more.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus and Scout share a loving, father-daughter relationship and have mutual respect for one another throughout the novel. Scout looks up to her father and immediately comes to him for answers about things that she does not comprehend. Atticus is an understanding, loving father, who is always honest with his children. Atticus always tells Scout the truth and even breaks down difficult subjects so that she can understand them. Atticus also allows and encourages Scout to be herself. He knows that she prefers to wear overalls, play with the boys, and read. Instead of confining her to the rigid social code of the Deep South, Atticus allows Scout to feel comfortable and free. Scout loves her father and can also be found on his lap reading with him on most evenings. Even though Scout can find Atticus boring at times, she trusts and loves him very much. Atticus is an exemplary father, who supports and cares for his children throughout the story. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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