Who can people trust in To Kill a Mockingbird's Maycomb, Alabama?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The one person that the people of To Kill a Mockingbird's Maycomb can trust is Atticus Finch. He is the person that people seek when they need legal representation, knowing he will not demand payment immediately if they don't have it (ex: Walter Cunningham Sr.). He is the man that Judge Taylor turns to when he seeks the best legal defense for Tom Robinson. He is voted Maycomb's representative to the Alabama legislature each election--without opposition. He is the man to whom Sheriff Tate hands his rifle when only one shot can be taken. His children turn to him for advice--even as adults--and his neighbors recognize that he is the moral conscience of the town. Miss Maudie states it best:

"Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple."

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Atticus Finch is the number one most trusted person in Maycomb county because of the responsibilities placed on his shoulders and by the way he carries out any task placed before him. He also never gossips about anyone or provokes anyone to a fight, and he's meek and humble. Not only is he highly educated and intelligent as well, but he's a good father. Scout and Miss Maudie discuss Atticus's trusted character in chapter 5, and both come up with the same statement to describe him. Scout says, "Atticus don't ever do anything to Jem and me in the house that he don't do in the yard," and Miss Maudie similarly echoes, "Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets" (46). These statements come on the heels of Miss Maudie discussing the fact that other people in Maycomb have secrets, but Atticus doesn't, which is one reason he can be trusted.

Another reason Atticus can be trusted is that he doesn't hold grudges. For example, in chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose is verbally disrespectful to Atticus and his children, but he still draws up her will, speaks well of her, and teaches his children to respect her. People know that no matter what they do, Atticus won't belittle them or be condescending in any way—he's above such things.

Finally, Miss Maudie's tribute to Atticus can only be summed up by her own words:

"We're the safest folks in the world . . . We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us" (215).

It's as if Atticus is the only man in the whole town who never does anything wrong and is trusted enough to bear the people of Maycomb's burdens and stand up for what is right.

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