"To Kill a Mockingbird" Character Review: "Both as a father and as a lawyer, Atticus is a failure."

Essay by michaelgodfreyJunior High, 9th gradeA, May 2006

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In the 1960 novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird", Harper Lee explores the concept of racism in the legal system and the upbringing of children. These notions are shown as one of the main patriarchs, Atticus Finch. He shows his children a principled path through life, and through his court case, he reinforces these philosophies. He also shows the small southern town of Maycomb what it really feels like to be a Negro. Atticus did not fail at either of these responsibilities: as a lawyer, he did not fail, and as a father, he didn't fail either. He succeeded what he set out to do, with flying colours, and taught everybody a lesson or two on how to behave.

Atticus Finch is a success as a father because he has raised, with the help of Calpurnia, two healthy young children. He has helped them deal with their own emotions, and in turn, helped them stand in another person's shoes.

Atticus teaches Scout (the narrator) how to be more reflective. On page 33 of the novel Atticus says: "First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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." In this quote, Atticus is trying to tell Scout to be more reflective in the way she acts. When Jem and Scout have finished reading to Mrs Dubose, and have just found out that she is dead, Atticus tells them what true courage is. (Page 124): "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.