To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download To Kill a Mockingbird Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Atticus Finch

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...

(The entire section is 408 words.)