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To Kill a Mockingbird: How Harper Lee presents the character of Atticus Finch

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Introduction

To Kill a Mockingbird was a book written in 1960 to portray the corruption in the USA's southern states specifically the state of Alabama. The book is a microcosm reflecting a wider range of thought in America in the 1960's. The book is a 'Bildungsroman', it follows a girl called Scout Finch who tells us about growing up in Maycomb county, a fictional county in Alabama. A 'Bildungsroman' is usually a book written in an autobiographical style and follows a specific characters rite of passage. The book is told in circular narrative the author Lee uses this to emphasise certain themes throughout the book. The book is told from a mature Scout's perspective describing her life's events. In this essay I will further discuss how Lee represents Maycomb County and discuss the methods and techniques used by Harper Lee to present the character of Atticus Finch. Arguably the most important aspect of Atticus is his maxim. His maxim is that if you attempt to stand in another's shoes you will be able to understand their point of view, this eventually leads on to appreciation and tolerance rather than prejudice and discrimination. "Atticus, when they finally saw him... he was real nice."This quote shows that Scout realises when you get to know people without judging them beforehand they are nice people. This is also shown when the children discover Arthur Radley is a normal person the prejudice they had against him prior dies. ...read more.

Middle

"What's the matter with you boy? Can't you talk? Didn't you know your daddy's - ...Hush Heck said Aticus" This quote shows us that Atticus would rather his kids not know about his nick name 'one shot-finch'; this is because Atticus is a good parent and would prefer to teach his children , especially Jem, 'true courage.' He wants to tell Jem in particular you do not need a gun to have courage. Lee wants us to acknowledge the symbolism and irony behind the mad dog; Atticus is protecting the community from something dangerous, later on in the book we find out that Atticus is trying to protect something innocent from the dangers of the community. Moreover Lee calls the dog 'Tim Johnson" a name fairly similar to 'Tom Robinson'; Lee clearly wants us to draw some parallels between the two. In this particular incident Lee dissolves the 'Southern Gentleman' stereotype we first perceive Atticus to be. After he shoots the mad dog his children's gratitude towards him surges. Prior to these events they believe he is not 'macho' enough. Scout describes him as being "feeble" and saying that "He never went hunting, he did not play poker or fish or drink or smoke. He sat in the living room and read." Scout and Jem are stunned and agree not to discuss it with their father; these are the first signs of Scout and Jem maturing. ...read more.

Conclusion

She uses Burris Ewells to foreshadow the antagonism of Bob Ewell and also Bob Ewell's behaviour towards Atticus foreshadowing the attack on his children. Lee uses pathetic fallacy to create tension for the reader during Bob Ewell's revenge incident. "The weather was unusually warm for the last day of October...the wind was growing stronger... there was no moon." These extracts explain Lee's effective use of pathetic fallacy. In conclusion, Lee uses various methods and techniques to present the character of Atticus. His character stays consistent in morals and understanding, and is juxtaposed to Scouts development throughout the story. Harper Lee uses Atticus as a spokesman; he embodies the themes of tolerance, justice, integrity and courage. In the face of his strong principles and idealism, he is trapped within the society in which he lives but hopes for his children to carry on his morals for future societies. Despite the inevitable guilty verdict of Tom Robinson and his death, the book does have a positive ending. The true significance of the trial and book is that Maycomb County is slowly ridding itself of racial prejudice and discrimination. The jury takes an extended amount of time to decide on a verdict not an instant unanimous decision you would expect. This is described by Miss Maudie, while talking to Scout, "the town has taken a step-it's just a baby step, but it's a step." By Mohammed Khalil ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

A good essay which is fluently written for the most part and uses quotes effectively to support arguments.
Shows understanding of novel and the themes Harper Lee is exploring.Some accurate use of terminology and perceptive analysis.
No topic sentence and though the penultimate paragraphs raise interesting ideas the essay needs to remain focused on the question
****

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 01/03/2012

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