Examine How Lee Presents the Character of Atticus in to Kill a Mockingbird

Topics: Morality, To Kill a Mockingbird, Good and evil Pages: 7 (2786 words) Published: October 15, 2011
Throughout the novel, Atticus plays a central role in all of the major events, constituting as the moral backbone of the Maycomb society and the voice of reason for the oppressed. Lee writes Atticus as being very unorthodox for his time, and as being the person who will help usher in moral change into the Maycomb society. Due to time of writing, it seems that Lee presents the character of Atticus in such a way to impress upon the public that, like the Maycomb community, they should also review their prejudiced views. Due to the very striking presentation of Atticus in the novel, he is one of literatures most well known characters, who has left his mark in the world of law as well.

Atticus is presented by Lee as being near perfect, he has perfect moral values, he is fair and respectful, and most importantly, due to the main theme of the book, he is unprejudiced. Even at the first mention of him, Lee shows how Atticus is all for fairness and diplomacy, he says that Scout and Jem are both right when they are musing on what led to the events mentioned in the book. He also values fair opportunities; he [11] “invested his earnings in his brother’s education”. The book is set during the great depression, so this generosity is further accentuated, and this I think is done on purpose by Lee to convey how Atticus is very altruistic.

To provide contrast between what is right and wrong, Lee has written the character of Atticus as being very different from Maycomb’s social expectations, which mostly are socially prejudiced and hypocritical. In the opening section, Scout notes how Atticus moved away from his homestead of Finch’s Landing, and it could be seen as an implicit reference to the fact that he has also moved away from the social norm as well. For example, when Atticus lived at Finch’s landing he used to shoot doves for recreation, but now he realises that shooting is wrong and he tries to cover up the fact he has such a deadly talent. Atticus is also shown as being a very good, if unorthodox, parent; he is [11] “courteous” with is children, he respects them-meaning they ‘mind’ him, and overall he is very truthful with them. He does not like [280] “connive[ance]”, so Lee provides consistency throughout the book by making Atticus always take the route where nothing is hidden from his children and there are no sugar-coatings. When Atticus explains something to his children, he often uses [37] “last-will-and-testament diction”, yet Scout notes how they were at [37] “all times free to interrupt” for a translation, showing how he realises that children need to be treated with respect, yet you must also note their differences as well. He also realises that hiding information from people who will be affected by it is useless, if anything it will make everyone worse off, so he is very truthful with his children, he realises that [93] “when a child asks [a question], answer [them], … , they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em.” Lee depicts here a very different view on parenting compared to the social norm, and this juxtaposition of contrasting views helps Lee to present Atticus as being a very different yet also a better parent, even now, when the societal norm is much more open than what is depicted in Maycomb.

Atticus is one of the few people in the town who can readily understand people and look at a situation from different angles. He does this by using the invaluable part of information he tries to impart to Scout, [35]"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view". This ability and willingness to consistently do this helps show him as a very understanding character, who is free from the [94] "disease" of prejudice. Also, as aforementioned, he tries to help his children have this clear viewpoint as well. Lee does this to show that he truly believes in his values, and does not have double standards for different people.

For all his brilliance,...
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