Atticus Finch as a Progressive Father and a Role Model in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Categories: Scout Finch
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In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch is a progressive father who believes parenting is a job which includes educating children. Atticus is progressive since he allows Jean Louise Finch (Scout) and Jem Finch to explore and make mistakes. Scout and Jem explore the world and the discrimination it contains.

The curiosity that children have makes Jem and Scout explore Boo Radley’s hidden life. Harper Lee shows through the text that education is not confined to a classroom.

Education is everywhere in the world. Atticus teaches different life morals to the kids out of class which the town’s people (Mrs. Dubose, Aunt Alexandra) take it differently. Due to Atticus’s parenting the children consider him as their role model. Atticus teaches Jem and Scout many things which most of them are morals especially life lessons.

The first thing Atticus teaches Scout is to never judge people before learning about their lives. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-“(39).

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Atticus teaches them about tolerance and also to respect their elders, despite of the “rude” people (Mr. Ewell) and cranky elders (Mrs. Dubose). To teach this to Jem, Atticus makes him read to Mrs. Dubose for a month to make Jem realize perspective is the key thing. One’s perspective helps realize to see the others point of view. Mrs. Dubose was suffering from drug withdrawal which made her the way she was; cranky. Atticus teaches the kids that having a gun does not make a man manly, courage does.

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“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 see it through no matter what” (149). Jem and Scout start thinking of their father as someone they could be proud of. In addition, education, considering Harper Lee, is not to be confined to a classroom. Education is learning and learning is done where ever mistakes are made.

Jem and Scout grow up making mistakes whereas learning about the world. Scout learns outside of the school, more than she is supposed to and therefore is reprimanded to learn from outside. Miss Caroline does not like the fact that Scout can read while her peers cannot. Jem and Scout learn about the racism which is not taught in a classroom. The more important life lessons such as not judging others and that the world has flaws (discrimination) are learnt outside of a class rather than sitting a chair. Jem and Scout make mistakes such as exploring Boo Radley’s hidden life and educating themselves that he might be in the house because of his own decision rather than being confined.

In fact Atticus is a very progressive single parent who gives his children space and freedom to explore. While this perhaps works in the Finch family, some people do not agree with Atticus; Mrs. Dubose and Aunt Alexandra. Mrs. Dubose is a cranky lady (drug withdrawal) who has a problem with Atticus’s way of parenting since after his wife’s death, he let his children run wild. “Don’t you say hey to me, you ugly girl!”(133) Mrs. Dubose says this to Scout since she disapproves of Scout’s overalls and therefore declares her ugly. Scout’s manners and way of dressing is a form of running wild for Mrs. Dubose. Scout is a tomboy who is not interested in clothes or boys and that is unacceptable for Mrs. Dubose and Aunt Alexandra. Aunt Alexandra, Atticus’s sister, is very much not pleased the way Atticus let’s Scout dress.

“Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life”(108). With many complaints and desires, Aunt Alexandra does not get the things her way. Despite the reactions of the people towards Atticus’s parenting, the children consider Atticus their role model. The children’s perspective towards Atticus changes through the novel. Atticus is a loving and a caring father and with his life morals to teach, the kids look up to him. Jem looks up to Atticus more than Scout and especially when he is going through puberty.

Jem’s way of thinking changes and becomes more mature. Jem starts to think how his actions would reflect upon Atticus. Jem and Scout are astonished when they learn about Atticus’s nickname “one-shot” and Jem tells Scout not to tell any of her schoolmates since “ If he (Atticus) was proud of it, he’da told us…”(130). Instead of showing off Atticus’s talent, Jem maturely keeps quiet and thinks about the reason they were never aware of the nickname in the first place. Scout looks up to Atticus since he reads to her even after her being reprimanded from learning. In this situation Atticus and Scout come to a compromise which still allows her to read outside of school.

In conclusion, Atticus is a progressive father who believes educating your children is a part of parenting. Atticus teaches the children (Jem and Scout) many life morals and they all are taught out of a classroom. This portrays that the education exceeds the limits of confinement to a class. Seeing that Atticus is an open minded parent, who gives space to his children, has an impact on the town folks (Mrs. Dubose, Aunt Alexandra). Despite all, Jem and Scout look up to Atticus because simply of who he is, as a person.

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Atticus Finch as a Progressive Father and a Role Model in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (2022, Nov 06). Retrieved from

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