In what way is Atticus optimistic?
Atticus shows optimism in a few parts of the story.
The most obvious of course is the way in which he defends Tom Robinson. He puts everything he has into it - perhaps not assuming he will win, but trying nonetheless. His entire closing in the courtroom in Chapter 20 could be categorized as optimistic.
He shows other signs of optimism though. In the lessons he teaches Scout about reading in school (chapter 3) - he comes across as optimistic that not only will everything be okay at school - but it has been okay forever.
Later, in chapter 15, Atticus is debriefing the incident of the gathering of men outside the Finch home (presumably "friend" warning Atticus to be careful about going through with the case) with Jem. He makes this statement: "The Ku Klux's gone... it'll never come back." Historically we know the Ku Klux was neither gone at this time nor that it stayed in hiding for long. I think here Atticus is mixing optimism with reassurance for his children.
Other examples of Atticus' optimism in To Kill a Mockingbird:
- Atticus explains to Scout about the payment system of Walter Cunningham Sr. for services rendered. " '... before the year's out, I'll have been paid,' " he tells her. And he is right: Cunningham pays with goods from his farm.
- Atticus shows optimism about the trial when speaking with his brother, Jack. " 'I think we'll have a reasonable chance on appeal,' " Atticus says.
- Atticus forces Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose in the hope that he will learn from his time spent with her.
- In general, Atticus allows his children more independence than most kids their age. His belief is that his own words of wisdom will be remembered and followed.