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Throughout the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, although Atticus Finch appears to be a loving and caring father, he proves himself to be more of a friend through the eyes of his children. The author, Harper lee, created Atticus to be a loyal friend to Jem Finch and Scout Finch. Atticus has potential to be a friend to his children because, first of all, the children call him by his first name. Secondly, he seldom scolds his children. Atticus has little or no rules set for his children to abide by. Lastly he does not try to mold his off springs into something they are not, though he does supply them with good advice. Typically adults and parents think that it is more respectful for children, particularly their own, to not call them by their first names. Jem and Scout refer to their father as “Atticus.” Scout asks her father, “Are we poor, Atticus?” (pg. 21) this shows that she calls her father by his first name on a regular basis. Jem says to his father while requesting permission from him, “Atticus, if it’s alright with you….” (pg. 61).
This shows that even the older son refers to his father as Atticus. “… Jem asked Atticus if he remembered anybody who ever won…”, as Scout narrates her story, she still refers to her father as “Atticus.” Throughout the story, Atticus never shows any sign of being offended or upset with his children calling him by his first name, like a friend. All through the novel, never once did Atticus scold his children for inappropriate behavior. The Finch’s had over a poor boy, named Walter. Scout insulted him with out understanding how it was rude,“…Atticus shook his head at me again. ‘But he’s gone and drowned his dinner with syrup…’”(p24). All Atticus did was shake his head; he left the rest of the punishing up to Calpurnia, the nanny. When Jem and Scout snuck into the court case that they knew they were not supposed to be in, Atticus did not show the slightest bit of aggravation with them. “…Atticus and Calpurnia met us downstairs. Calpurnia looked peeved, but Atticus looked exhausted,”(pg. 206). When Jem got furious with a horrible old lady, Mrs. Dubose, he destroyed her garden out of anger.
When Atticus found out that Jem did this, he says, “…I strongly advise you to go down and have a talk with Mrs. Dubose…come straight home afterward.”(pg. 104). Normally, if friends get upset with each other, they do not have the right to “punish” their friend. Atticus has that right as a parent, but chooses not to use it. Many parents set rules and restrictions for their children. Atticus, for some reason, does not feel it necessary for his two young children to have rules to abide by. The only rules that he ever gave to his children were to not go near the “Radley house” anymore after they had been teasing Boo Radley in the front yard. It is not common for friends to set rules for one another, but very common for parents to want their children to know where their boundaries lye. Jem and Scout don’t have any rules set by their father to follow, and no known consequences for breaking any rules.
Atticus Finch does not try to influence his ideas or beliefs about things on his children. He does not “make” his children into something they are not, just because that’s what he believes. Most parents try to get their off springs to believe the same things they do, or want the same things they want. Atticus just teaches his kids to the best of his ability through his advice. When the teacher, Miss Caroline, was upset with the fact that Scout was being taught how to read by her father, Scout got the idea of not liking school anymore. Atticus made a compromise with her saying that if she was good in class, then he would continue reading to her. This shows that Atticus was not going to force Scout to like school just because he thought it was a good decision.
When scout got into a fight with Cecil Jacobs, Atticus said, “…you just hold your head high and keep your fists down. No matter what anybody tells you, don’t let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change, it’s a good one…”(pg. 79) this is important because it shows that he is not forcing his daughter to think some way, or be someone else, he is not even getting mad at her; he is just giving her good advice. When Jem and Scout got guns for Christmas, Atticus told them one thing, “…Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
This shows that Atticus is not threatening his children with this statement, he is just simply giving them the best advice he can in this situation. Friends do not expect each other believe the same things they believe, but just hope that people will take their advice into thought. Throughout the novel although Atticus Finch appears to be a loving and caring father, he proves himself to be more of a friend through the eyes of his children. He shows himself to have much potential as a loyal friend to his children. Maybe Atticus as a loyal friend to Jem and Scout was more meaningful than him being a father figure.