Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Atticus Finch

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Extended Character Analysis

The widowed father of Scout and Jem, Atticus Finch forms the moral center of the novel. As a respected lawyer, Atticus uses his exalted position in the community to fight against injustice. His deep sense of fairness and empathy extends to his private life, where he teaches Scout and Jem the value of compassion for others. Atticus’s great influence over his children can be seen in Scout’s intelligence and Jem’s strong sense of justice. Atticus makes a point to treat those around him with dignity, even characters such as Calpurnia and Mayella Ewell, whom the rest of the town considers his social inferiors. This respectful attention is also extended to his children, who can always count on him for an honest and straightforward answer to their questions. Though Atticus may initially appear to be almost unrealistically perfect, he is not completely without flaws. He occasionally suffers from self-doubt, as shown when Aunt Alexandra questions his parenting of Scout. Atticus’s ability to find the good in others may also blind him to people with truly evil intentions, as is the case when he fails to take Bob Ewell’s threats seriously. Despite these minor failings, Atticus’s determination to defend Tom Robinson teaches Scout and Jem the importance of doing the right thing, even when the odds are stacked against you. It is Atticus’s unfailing belief in the innate goodness of humanity that allows Scout and Jem to emerge from the traumatic events in Maycomb with heightened compassion rather than cynicism.


  • “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
  • "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
  • “There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible.” 
  • “Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 
  • “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”

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Jem Finch


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