Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird depicts Atticus Finch as a good father to his children due to his sense of fairness, his teaching, and his honesty. Atticus depicts fairness by treating his children and all others with respect and understanding. He teaches his children important life lessons and prepares them for when they go out into the world, and he sets a good example by always being honest. To be a good father, these are three very important qualities to possess.
Atticus Finch’s fairness shows that he is a good father to Jem and Scout because instead of simply denying his children’s of everything they ask him, he allows them a chance to explain and offers a compromise. For example, in the scene where Scout informs Atticus that she does not want to go to school anymore, he says to her, “Do you know what a compromise is? ” Scout asks him if it is bending the law. He replies, “No, an agreement of mutual concessions. If you’ll concede the necessity of going to school, we’ll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain? (Lee 31).
This quote from To Kill a Mockingbird adds to the reader’s sense of Atticus’ fairness because rather than forcing Scout, he gives her the choice on whether or not to accede. Atticus knows that there is really no question of Scout going to school, but lets her express her opinion anyways so that he can fully understand her reasoning. This demonstrates him being a good father because he is reasoning with her and treating her like an adult. Another way that Atticus’ fairness depicts him as being a good father is that Atticus always includes his children in important decisions.
For example, when Atticus comes home the night that Aunt Alexandra arrives, he asks Scout, “How’d you like for her to come live with us? ” (Lee 128). By Atticus asking this question, he takes a decision involving Scout and gives her the option to speak her mind. This shows that Atticus is being fair because he is giving Scout the chance to tell him what she think about Aunt Alexandra moving in. Atticus has trust in his children, and thinks that they are mature enough to know what they want, and to make their own decisions.
Atticus’ fairness also shows he is a good father because he believes that everyone deserves a chance to be understood and all have reasons for their actions. For example, after revealing the news to Jem and Scout of Tom’s death, he says, “Depends on how you look at it. What was one Negro, more or less, among two hundred of ‘em? He wasn’t Tom to them, he was an escaping prisoner” (Lee 235). This passage shows Atticus’s fairness because he always tries to put himself in other people’s shoes in order to give everyone a chance at being understood, as he teaches Jem and Scout to do.
He gave up his respectable reputation among many of the whites in Maycomb to defend Tom Robinson, and still speaks highly of the men who killed him. When he says this, he is trying to make the children see that the men who killed Tom did not know him as a person, but as a Negro who committed a crime, so cannot be discriminated upon for doing their job. Along with Atticus’ sense of fairness, his Teaching also characterizes him as a good father to Jem and Scout. Atticus Finch’s teaching shows that he is a good father to Jem and Scout because he explains things that the children don’t understand.
For example, when Atticus and Scout agree that they will go on reading every night, Atticus says, “I’m afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities. ” Scout says, “Huh, Sir? ” Atticus explains, “I never went to school, but I have a feeling that if you tell Miss Caroline we read every night, she’ll get after me, and I wouldn’t want her after me” (Lee 31). This passage shows that Atticus is a good father because he doesn’t dumb down his language to what he thinks his children will understand.
He is always willing to explain when they have questions about anything or don’t understand something he says. This helps Jem and Scout to progressively learn more complex vocabulary. Atticus knows that his children are smart enough to understand his choice of wording, even if he has to explain it to them a little more, and that by teaching them they will eventually learn to understand completely on their own. Atticus’ teaching also shows that he is a good father because he reads with Scout every night.
For example, after supper on the night after Scout’s first day of school, Atticus sat down with the paper and called, “Scout, ready to read? ” (Lee 29). This shows that Atticus is a good father because he teaches Scout how to read at an early age and continues to help her practice by reading the newspaper with her every night. Evidently, you can see that Atticus values teaching his children because he reads with Scout each and every single evening. Not only does this help Scout learn to read, but this is a good way for Atticus to spend time with her every day. This costs time and as a busy lawyer, time is very precious to Atticus.
Atticus Finch’s teaching also characterizes him as a good father because he teaches his children to be polite and treat everyone with fairness. For example, in the scene when Walter Cunningham came over to the finch’s house for lunch, he drowned his food in syrup and Scout asks “what the Sam hill is he doing? ” Atticus shook his head at her for the second time and she protests, “But he’s gone and drowned his dinner in syrup. He’s poured it all over-“(Lee 24). This quote shows Atticus’ teaching because Scout is being disrespectful all throughout the meal and Atticus tells her to stop.
Simply because she thinks Walter had too much syrup on his plate, she started to make a fuss, but Atticus quickly silenced her with a shake of his head. Scout doesn’t understand that Walter does things differently than she does. Atticus is trying to teach her that just because Walter is different than she is, doesn’t give her the right to act like she is better than him. This shows that he is a good father because he is setting an example for Jem and Scout to be polite and to not judge people just because they are different. Along with Atticus’ teaching, his honesty also demonstrates how he is good father to Jem and Scout.
Atticus Finch’s honesty shows that he is a good father to Jem and Scout because he knows that he is going to lose the case, but still tries his hardest to defend Tom Robinson. For example, when Atticus tells Scout about the case, she asks, “Atticus, are we going to win it? ” “No honey”, Atticus answers. “Then why-“, Scout began. Atticus says, “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win” (Lee 76). This demonstrates Atticus’ honesty because he is being honest with both himself and Scout, knowing very well that he is not going to win his case.
He doesn’t put false hope in anyone’s mind and does not lie to himself. This is significant because even though he is being called names like “Nigger Lover”, Atticus does what he knows to be right, even though he will not succeed. He defends Tom Robinson with every shred of honesty he has, taking the names people are calling him and making them out to be compliments, which sets an excellent example for Jem and scout to follow. Also, Atticus is honest with his children when they ask him questions that may be difficult to explain to young children.
For example, the night that Jem and Scout went into town, Scout was reminded of a question she forgot to ask Atticus. She asked, “What’s rape? ” Atticus replies, “… rape is a carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent” (Lee 135). This passage shows Atticus’ honesty because he doesn’t shrug off the question, he gives Scout a reasonable answer. Another parent might avoid the question because they think their children can’t handle it, but Atticus knows that Scout is mature enough to handle it and that it is better to give an honest answer rather than deceive her.
This is being a good father because he is making scout aware that rape is not a good thing, and preparing her in case she ever were to encounter a situation where it would be helpful to know what rape is. Atticus’ honesty also shows that he is a good father because he deals with issues and believes in taking responsibility for your actions. For example, when Atticus is talking to Heck Tate about the Jem and the stabbing of Bob Ewell, he says, “… nobody’s hushing this up. I don’t live that way. ” “…I don’t want my boy starting out with something like this over his head. Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open” (Lee273).
This example shows that Atticus is a good father because he doesn’t try to hush this issue up, even though Jem is his own son. In this quote, Atticus and Heck are talking about whether Jem really stabbed Bob or not. Atticus thinks he did it in self-defence. Heck is saying that he could hush it up if he wants to, so that nobody finds out about it, but Atticus wants to get everything out in the open, so that Jem doesn’t feel guilty for the rest of his life. This shows Atticus’ honesty because he would rather everyone know the truth than to cover up what happened with lies. Atticus says, “I don’t live that way”, meaning he lives an honest life.
He is being a good father because this way, Jem can let it go and know that he did nothing wrong, not having to carry the guilt for his whole life. Certain qualities and characteristics go into the making of every good father, and the demonstration of these can be far more important than the amount of time spent with his children. To Kill a Mockingbird shows that Atticus Finch holds all of these qualities. Harper Lee did an excellent job of depicting him with a sense of fairness, the ability to teach his children how to be good people, and an honest nature, all of these qualities contributing to the reason why he is a good father.