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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Atticus advocate for racial equality?

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Atticus is not a racist. He views racism as a sickness, and raises his children in such a way that they will not be "infected" by it. He is a decent, compassionate man who has understanding and respect for other people and who can feel their suffering. He teaches Jem and Scout to understand others by seeing the world through their perspective. Atticus abhors injustice and cruelty. He is also a man of conscience. He tells Scout that he could not go into the church and worship God if he did not help Tom Robinson. Unlike most of his white neighbors, Atticus is comfortable in the black community because he does not judge people by color. Calpurnia is more than his housekeeper; she is part of his family. Tom and his wife Helen are more than clients. Atticus feels their fear and suffering and suffers himself when Tom is shot to death in prison. It is Atticus who brings Helen the news. All of these character traits make Atticus beloved by the black community in Maycomb. Rev. Sykes makes that clear at the end of Tom's trial when he and all in the "colored balcony" stand to show their respect for Atticus. Simply put, Atticus despises racism because he is a good man who rejects ignorance, hypocrisy, cruelty, and injustice.

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