Atticus Finch

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Atticus Finch by Mind Map: Atticus Finch

1. How others see him

1.1. Quality: The voice of reason in the town of Maycomb

1.1.1. Quote/evidence: “I'd hoped to get through life without a case of this kind, but John Taylor pointed at me and said, 'You're it.' "

1.1.1.1. Explain: Judge Taylor selecting Atticus for the case demonstrates that Taylor is aware that Atticus will do the right thing and will follow his beliefs as he has morals and principles. These ethics are the foundation for a “conscience”, which seems to be very important to Atticus.

1.2. Quality: Wise

1.2.1. Quote/evidence: “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"

1.2.1.1. Explain: Although he is wise to many, this applies for Jem and Scout in particular. Atticus teaches them important things about life that helps them to deal with what is going on around them. His ability to connect to the children reinforces this knowledge and intelligence he possesses. Furthermore, in his court speech, his wisdom is exemplified by the way in which he discusses the case.

1.3. Quality: A ‘Nigger-lover’ (Bob Ewell is the only man to criticise Atticus to his face)

1.3.1. Quote/evidence: "Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin' bastard?"

1.3.1.1. Explain: Particular characters in the novel such as Bob Ewell, who are prejudiced towards African Americans, see him as this derogatory term which Atticus defines as “one of those terms that don’t mean anything – like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain – ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favouring Negroes above themselves.” They think he is a ‘Nigger-lover’ because he is defending Tom Robinson, but in actuality, he is simply calling for justice. People are surprised that although he is pleading Tom Robinson’s case, he actually believes him and wants to help him. This displays the extreme prejudice for many in Maycomb.

2. Textual issues or concerns linked to this character

2.1. Concern: The justice system

2.1.1. Quote/evidence: “I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system- that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality.”

2.1.1.1. Explain: A recurring theme, justice, is something Atticus heavily believes. Before taking on the case, he is aware that he is probably going to lose. This, however, does not deter him from giving Tom a strong defence. Importantly, he puts a lot of effort into the case because Tom is innocent, not because he is black. Atticus feels that the justice system needs to be colour-blind. When he explains the concept of justice to the jury, he is trying to get them to understand their responsibility. Another reason Atticus approaches the court’s justice is because he wants to establish morals in his children.

2.1.2. Similar to Tom Robinson who believes everyone should have a fair chance at freedom.

2.2. Concern: Individuality

2.2.1. Quote/evidence: “Anything fit to say at the table’s fit to say in front of Calpurnia.”

2.2.1.1. Explain: Atticus has a very individual character when compared to many in the 1930s, where people are commonly sexist and racist. He has integrity and sticks by his beliefs and moral principles with great humility.

2.2.2. Boo Radley - he is individual in that he is easily distinguishable from the wide population as we see his isolation and lack of contribution to Maycomb due to his different beliefs when compared to the main population.

2.3. Concern: Seeks equality for the Negroes

2.3.1. Quote/evidence: “In our courts, all men are created equal.”

2.3.1.1. Explain: As Atticus is defending Tom Robinson; he is exposed to the extreme prejudice in the town of Maycomb. He says “there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal… a court”. We see that this human right is violated with the final decision, and this causes Atticus distress.

2.4. Concern: That it is a sin to kill a mockingbird

2.4.1. Quote/evidence: “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit’ em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”

2.4.1.1. Explain: Atticus leads by the belief that it is a sin to kill an innocent person with a pure heart as they only “sing their hearts out for us”. This is an important theme in the book as Tom Robison and Boo Radley symbolise this Mockingbird best. They are mistreated/misunderstood, and for this reason, Tom Robinson’s life is costed. Atticus explains to Jem and Scout that there is nothing worse than killing people like Tom Robinson, a crippled man, and this reinforces his morals.

3. Looks like

3.1. Wise

3.1.1. “Atticus was feeble: he was nearly 50”

3.1.1.1. Scout says that his father was 50 which was considered old, being old also meant that he had a lot of knowledge and was wise.

3.2. Old

3.2.1. “Besides that, he wore glasses. He was nearly blind in his left eye, and said left eyes were the tribal curse of the finches"

3.2.1.1. Atticus can't see very well from his left eye and says it runs in the family.

3.3. Healthy

3.3.1. “He did not do the things our schoolmates’ fathers did: he never went hunting, he did not play poker or finch or drink or smoke”

3.3.1.1. Atticus was healthy as he didn’t “drink or smoke” like other younger fathers to demonstrate how responsible he is. He is also not sport, unlike his children, which provides us with an idea of his interests.

4. Motivated by

4.1. Committed

4.1.1. “But do you think I could face my children otherwise? You know what’s going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease.”

4.1.1.1. Atticus is motivated to take the case of Tom Robinson to set an example for his children, Scout and Jem. He hopes that they will not grow up with “Maycomb’s usual disease” referring to the “bitterness” they have towards Negroes. Instead, he is motivated to show them a broader view and to see the world with equality.

4.1.2. Similar to Jem in the sense of how he never turns down a dare

4.2. Equality

4.2.1. "If you shouldn't be defendin' him, then why are you doin' it?" "For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town, I couldn't represent this county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again…

4.2.1.1. Atticus is motivated for justice in the Tom Robinson case. His morals are to keep equality - he believes that he should help Tom to show an example to his children. If he didn’t, he couldn’t hold up his head in town.

4.3. Ethics

4.3.1. “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.”

4.3.1.1. Atticus is respectful to all people no matter their story; he hopes that his philosophy will pass onto his children so they have a better understanding of the world around them.

5. Peripheral character: Ms Maudie is Atticus' peripheral character as she stays within bounds, but follows her own code. Miss Maudie treats the children in an adult manner, much like Atticus does. Their similarities are very evident throughout the novel. Essentially, they both have their own body of rules which are different to most people in Maycomb, however, they have adapted to fit in.