Why does Atticus appear to be an enigma to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An enigma is a mystery.  Scout has trouble understanding Atticus because they are very different personalities.  Atticus is even-tempered and quiet, while Scout is loud and has a temper.  What they have in common is that they are both passionate, but Scout cannot see Atticus’s passion until the trial.

Scout also does not understand Atticus because she is a child, and she is just learning how the adult world works.  She knows that people object to her father’s representing Tom Robinson, but she does not really understand why.

While Walter piled food on his plate, he and Atticus talked together like two men, to the wonderment of Jem and me. (ch 3)

Scout doesn't have the background to talk to Atticus like an adult, as Walter does.

As Scout gets older, she begins to respect her father and understand him more.  When Scout tells Atticus she realizes why they cannot turn Boo Radley in for killing Bob Ewell, he knows that she has taken his lessons on getting inside someone else’s skin and walking around in it to heart.

"Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" (ch 30)

Scout has come to realize that people come in all different kinds, and do things for all different reasons.  She begins to really understand Atticus’s world.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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