Atticus Finch's role as a Father

Years ago, I watched the old black and white Movie To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck and, while I thought it was a good story, I didn't fully appreciate it or understand why the story was a classic.

I just finished reading the book. Now that I have read the book, I can finally appreciate the movie in full. It’s strange how that works, isn’t it?

For those of you who haven't read it, it is told from the perspective of a 10 year old girl, Scout, growing up in the South during the Great Depression. The story unfolds through her eyes as she watches her father, older brother, neighbors and the Townspeople navigate the trial of a black man as it shakes their town and the vision of a so-called peaceful community.

What truly struck me as I read the book was Scout’s view of her father, Atticus Finch. The picture she drew of this man caused me to want to strive to be a better man and a better father. I believe Atticus Finch has become my favorite father figure in literature.

He's a man who took his responsibilities seriously. As I have said before, a boy becomes a man when he is willing to take on responsibility. Atticus typifies that type of manliness. He isn't the swaggering, tough talking John Wayne style of man or the larger-than-life heroic soldier charging an enemy position, he doesn't have a very prestigious occupation.

He's a quiet man, a widower, with two young children to raise. He’s a small-time defense lawyer in a small town. His most courageous actions seldom gather accolades; they often gather scorn from almost everyone who knows him. He was a well-dressed man, courteous to everyone- even the undeserving—and willing to take on the most unpleasant of tasks because no one else would.

Atticus was willing to quietly walk away when faced with insults. He saw the bigger picture that not everything was about him, when insulted he didn't find it necessary to cause a scene through defending himself which often escalates into counter attacking which he could have done but never resorted too. here he is explaining to his son why he didn't fight back when a man who had just perjured  himself, confronted and spit in Atticus's face.
"Jem see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that household full of children out there."

He isn't be the typical literary picture of a man, but I found myself wanting to be a man like him. His character resonated with what I strive to be. I think he is one of the greatest example of manhood, and in particular, fatherhood, in all of literature.

We see him raise his children by teaching them the importance of character. We watch him struggle as he saw his children struggling and to help them to deal with it as best he could. He didn't step in and try to fix his chilrdrens problems for them, he made them deal with their own issues but was always the one they could turn to for support.

We see him take on a job that nobody else would take on, one that would make him the most despised person in the town. We travel with him on his journey as he make decisions with courage-- decisions that would endanger himself and his family— because he knew to do what was right rather than what we easy.

Despite all of the obstacles, he still took on the task and did it to the best of his ability because he knew it was the right thing to do. That is a man.

 Atticus was known as a man who was “the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” That is something I would like said about myself.

Here are some quotes that stood out to me.

"This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience-Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.”
“Atticus, you must be wrong…”
“How’s that?”
“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…”
“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
- A discussion between Atticus and his daughter, Scout

"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. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."
- spoken to his son, Jem by Atticus Finch

“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.”

“Do you defend niggers Atticus?” I asked him that evening.
“Of course I do. Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.”
“it's what everybody else at school says.”
“From now on it’ll be everybody less one.”

“I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”
“Oh,” said Jem. “Well.”
“Don’t you oh well me, sir,” Miss Maudie replied, recognizing Jem’s fatalistic noises, “you are not old enough to appreciate what I said.”

"It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived."