• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What Is The Importance Of "Atticus Finch" in "To Kill A Mocking Bird" by Harper Lee?

Extracts from this document...


What Is The Importance Of "Atticus Finch" in "To Kill A Mocking Bird" by Harper Lee? This poignant story takes place in the rural American South during the Depression Era and courageously takes on the issue of racial prejudice. Atticus Finch, an unforgettable lawyer and an admirable widowed father of two impressionable children, defends a young black man who has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman. In a town where the prevailing attitude is anti-black, it is up to Atticus to bring his client, his children, and the town's people through the trial process to a new understanding of tolerance and of humanity within society. This novel handles an emotionally charged issue with a respect and dignity that will leave the reader with a clearer awareness of himself and the world. Atticus is a proud, dignified man with a calm temperament and a strong sense of duty and righteousness. It isn't just that everyone respects him: he also respects himself. He is forced to defend Tom Robinson because if he refuses to, then he "couldn't hold up [his] head in town" - he would be ashamed of himself. This self-pride is far more important to Atticus than mere cheap popularity. ...read more.


One of the more important incidents where this quality contained in Atticus is brought to light is in the trial scene. The setting is Maycomb County Courthouse, a relatively modest, inoffensive building, where again the "anti-black" emotion is felt in strong currents. This is portrayed to the reader through the seating arrangement in the courthouse. The reader must remember that Maycomb is a comparatively small county, where many trials do not occur at all, let alone cases on as serious a scale as this, the case of rape, especially that of a black man allegedly raping a white woman, whether she be "white trash", or not, so this caused rather a stir in society as town trials in the 1930s were seen as immense social events. This "out of the ordinary" case was treated rather like a "Carnival" according to Miss Maudie, the Finch's neighbour. By not attending the trial she was showing her support for Atticus, just as Scout did, but in a way that Scout did not understand. Miss Maudie referred to the crowds gathering outside the courthouse as a "Carnival" because with such an enormous swarm of people things would be crowded, atmospheres intense, hot, and sticky, and seating scarce. ...read more.


He elucidates to her; " A mob's always made up of people, no matter what. Mr Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man." And, as if to make sure that the message had really sunk in, he dictates it again, but in such a matter that he knows his young children will surely understand. He quips; "That proves something, a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human." We see again that Atticus is emphasising to his children the lesson of not judging, nor hating someone forever, just because of a mistake that they may have committed, or and opinion they was have stressed. Atticus realises that sometimes people get led astray from what is right and true, and so, maybe this is why Harper Lee always conveys Atticus Finch to us alone in his cause, never as a part of a group or mob. This is telling the reader that he does not seem to need other people to back up his opinions and beliefs. We see this so often in the novel that one may actually wonder if it is this quality in Atticus that is a mirror copy of Harper Lee's own belief. Priya Patel 10G Mrs Taylor - English Literature ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a well written and well expressed essay that covers many apt points about the character of Atticus Finch. There is a good understanding of his role demonstrated; however there needs to be more support used to justify the points being made.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 07/08/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore how Harper Lee presents the theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird.(TM)

    4 star(s)

    Blacks were still worse than them, no matter how rich they were. Harper Lee shows the reader how being low socially results in being treated harshly and called different to everyone else. Although racism is the main form of prejudice highlighted through out this book another key one which furthers Scouts knowledge is through the character of Boo Radley.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Courage in To Kill A Mockingbird

    4 star(s)

    Many incidences shown Jem holding his head up and being determined about his fair thoughts. In chapter 1, Dill made a bet with Jem that challenged Jem's courage. Jem took the bet to touch the Radley house although he was really scared to do it.

  1. Bullet points on To Kill A Mockingbird.

    house * Atticus tells Helen Tom is dead * Maycomb interested in Tom's death * Mr Underwood writes about Tom's death * Bob Ewell says 'one down two to go' CHAPTER 26: * School starts Jem is in seventh grade scout is in third grade * Jem is school water

  2. How does Harper Lee use minor characters to explain some of the main concerns ...

    previously stated viewpoints; Scout's initial reaction to him is quite negative: "As Mr Dolphus Raymond was an evil man" (page 206), despite having not had a previous meeting with him in our experience.

  1. Scout's Maturation through the Evil in the World

    Boo Radley, the stories main ''mockingbird', really teaches Scout a lot about life and is one of the greatest contributors to Scout"s maturation. Finally, the Ewell family, particularly Bob Ewell, teach Scout how truly cruel a few people can be.

  2. Is To Kill A Mockingbird an Optimistic or Pessimistic Novel?

    Scout clearly was scared after what had happened as she for a while believed that Jem was dead. She says she wasn't though, which could e interpreted in two ways; that it was Southern virtues, or that she was hopeful and did not want to worry Atticus.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    defended the Jews in the lesson at school, but then in her own town, she is very prejudiced. This is because when Scout follows her down the steps after the court hearing, she says harshly they had all that was coming to them; "Well coming out of the court house ...

  2. To Kill A Mocking Bird Courage Comes in Many Forms.

    This jury however, is in the midst of a highly prejudiced community, and therefore it makes it extremely hard to be courageous in any way. This community is prejudiced about so much they even despise an elderly lady with a medical condition.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work