Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What symbols could represent Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and why?

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The newspaper could symbolically represent various aspects of Atticus Finch's personality throughout the novel. Atticus reads the newspaper regularly, and it could be considered his favorite thing to do. Atticus constantly reading the newspaper represents his intellectual personality and reveals his age. Atticus is described as a "deep reader" and is much older than the parents of Scout's friends, which is why he prefers reading rather than participating in physical activities. His intellectual abilities also give him an advantage in court, which is revealed by his valiant defense of Tom Robinson.

The newspaper also reflects Atticus's love for reading, which is something he passes onto his children. Scout mentions that Atticus always reads Jem the sports page before bed and recalls the numerous nights she read the newspaper on her father's lap. The newspaper also symbolically represents Atticus's relevance in the community. His decision to defend Tom Robinson is well-known throughout Maycomb, and he is the talk of the town. Unfortunately, the majority of the prejudiced citizens of Maycomb disagree with his decision to defend a black man. Overall, the newspaper symbolically represents Atticus's intellectual personality, his love for reading, and his relevance throughout the community.

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Atticus's glasses best symbolize his character in TKAM. The glasses represent his physical weakness:

He was nearly blind in his left eye, and said left eyes were the tribal curse of the Finches.  (Chapter 10)

But his glasses also represent his strength. Atticus has been able to overcome his bad eyesight, seeing the world around him much more clearly than anyone else in Maycomb. Scout and Jem first believe that the glasses make Atticus seem unmanly, but they eventually learn that despite his bad eyesight, he was a crack marksman with the rifle, earning a reputation as the "deadest shot in Maycomb County" as a youth. Later, he put down the gun, and despite his bad eye, recognized that

"... God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things."  (Chapter 10)

Before killing the mad dog with a single shot between the eyes, Atticus "dropped them [his glasses] in the street" where Scout heard them crack. This may have been Atticus's way of giving the dog a fighting chance, and it symbolized the necessary return to violence that the situation called for. The glasses serve as a symbol of intelligence and social clarity. It is clear that Atticus is color blind when it comes to the races, and he is both the most successful attorney in town and Maycomb's representative to the Alabama legislature, running unopposed each election. He treats all people--black or white, male or female, child or adult--with respect, and

"Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets."  (Chapter 5)

Atticus knows that he is the man the people of Maycomb come to when they have a problem, but he is also able to communicate with the common man. During his summation to the jury in the Tom Robinson trial, he removes his watch and chain--and his glasses--signifying that he, too, can relate to the jurors dressed in overalls and work clothes. Wiping his glasses clean of the perspiration that blurred his eyes, he returned them to his face so that he could more clearly see the jury and so that they could better see him: The man who was the conscience of the town, but a man with whom, on this day, the jury could not see eye-to-eye. 

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What is a symbol to represent Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (including direct quotes from the book with chapter identification)?

The symbol that best identifies with Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is his glasses. They represent both his strengths and weaknesses: We know that Atticus is practically blind in his left eye, left eyes

... being the tribal curse of the Finches.

Yet, he is able to overcome this physical weakness to become the best shot in the county as a boy. After a 30 year period, he still maintains this strength, cutting down the mad dog, Tim Johnson, with a shot between the eyes when called upon by Sheriff Tate. The glasses are unnecessary: When they keep slipping down as he takes aim, he throws them into the street. He is a better marksman--and a man--with one good eye than the sheriff. His glasses make him appear "feeble" to his children, but they also give him an appearance of intellectual superiority, one which he demonstrates throughout the book as the man Maycomb turns to when its citizens are in need. The glasses help Atticus to maintain his favorite hobby--reading--and he passes on the knowledge he attains daily to both of his children.

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