What words are used to describe Atticus Finch's appearance in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus is described as old, tired, and feeble.  He is also a good talker.

Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. (ch 10)

Atticus Finch is old to be a father.  He was already middle-aged when he met his wife.  He has “graying black hair and square-cut features” (ch 15).  He is quiet and likes to spend time reading.

He is a dignified, proper Southern man.  He wears glasses, sometimes polishing them with his handkerchief when he is thinking, and a pocket-watch, which he has a tendency to finger, and “that was the only way he could think” (ch 3).  He has one good eye.  Scout describes him as a “big man.”  He sweats only in extreme stress, for “he was one of those men whose faces never perspired, but [when he did] it was shining tan” (ch 20).

Atticus is a lawyer, and dresses like one, in a suit and a hat outside.  He usually wears an overcoat, jacket and a vest, dressing professionally, especially in court.  He also carries a fountain pen in his vest pocket.

Atticus got up grinning but instead of walking to the witness stand, he opened his coat and hooked his thumbs in his vest, then he walked slowly across the room to the windows. (ch 18)

Although Atticus is older, he is still a crack shot with a gun even though he hasn’t shot one in twenty years.  In the courtroom, he often proceeds at a slow and meandering pace to get the witness off guard, but he can act quickly when he needs to.

Atticus is a remarkable individual.  Physically, he often seems old, tired and weak to his children.  However, he is still sharp and intelligent.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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