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The Literary "Hall of James" Favorite Fictional Characters /Atticus Finch

Updated on February 10, 2021
justthemessenger profile image

James first read 'Mockingbird' as a high school sophomore. He hasn't read it cover to cover since but it still resonates with him.

Cover; To Kill a Mockingbird

The author's ragged copy of the classic novel.
The author's ragged copy of the classic novel. | Source

Hall of James Summary

Character Atticus Finch

Story To Kill a Mockingbird

Author Harper Lee

The most telling statement Atticus Finch ever made was the following: “I can’t live one way in town and another way in my home.” He based his relationships with Scout, his rambunctious tomboy of a daughter, and his son Jem upon that tenant. This stance was key to all of his choices including the decision to defend a black man falsely accused of rape by a white woman. He made this choice in the Alabama of old that existed prior to watershed historical moments such as the march on Selma and Birmingham bus boycott. His resolve to live out his belief made him stand out among characters due to his character.

Maycomb housed quite a collection of literary characters. The town set during the depression included readily identified types who portrayed extreme manifestations of their kind along with those truly unique to its southern setting. Atticus interacts with both types of literary icons who populated Maycomb.

Old Monroeville Courthouse

The fictional town of Maycomb is based upon the author's actual hometown of Monroeville, Alabama
The fictional town of Maycomb is based upon the author's actual hometown of Monroeville, Alabama | Source

The central plot of the story is the trial of the unjustly charged black man, Tom Robinson. Atticus took it upon himself to defend Tom Robinson, a decent quiet man who deftly symbolized the fragility of a black man’s existence in the Jim Crow south. Needless to say, the decision to defend him was unpopular. It was regarded as an act of blasphemy by many of the town’s people. Furthermore, the choice was especially bold given that he was their elected official in the state legislature.

Atticus did not entertain any delusions about Mr. Robinson’s chances. He knew that he undertook a quixotic mission. He explained this decision to Scout, whose voice narrates the tale, with these words stamped into cinematic memory: “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”

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It  would be a sin to kill a mockingbird
It would be a sin to kill a mockingbird | Source

Bold action was not new to Atticus. He was renowned for having dispensed of a threat that gripped the town in fear, an incident unrelated to the trial. As such, Bob Ewell would not intimidate him. He, the father of the accuser, Mayella Ewell, personified the vintage Hollywood depiction of a bad southern white male. He was a cruel, lowly, racist, drunken coward of a man whose offspring were rotten apples who did not fall far from his tree. Yet, Atticus stood up to him when confronted.

Atticus did right by everyone. He respected Heck Tate, a southern sheriff who was actually a good guy, a compassionate cop. He held a live and let live attitude towards Boo Radley, a mysterious figure that people believed lived in a haunted house. He supported his domestic help, Calpurnia in her efforts to reprimand his children. He did this at a time when custom demanded black people to refer to all white people, children included, as Mr. and Ms. Atticus even engaged in fair play when doing business with people of lesser means such as the poor but proud Cunningham clan.

Atticus Finch understood the reality of integrity. Whereas it may be inspired by passion, duty, indoctrination or a combination of any or all thereof, it must be acted upon. As such, he took action. He practiced what he preached, thus providing the basis of Maycomb’s long ago story and giving rise to the title of the book. And, as a result, his character stood out among the characters.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 James C Moore

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    • justthemessenger profile imageAUTHOR

      James C Moore 

      6 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Yes, Atticus was a class act.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      6 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      Atticus Finch was truly a superior man in all ways. I loved this book. Great hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed your presentation here. My daughter is committed to reading current fiction like Harry Potter, however when she was assigned this book in her high school English class she loved it. She was so surprised that her dad and I had both read it. (Ha!) It is one of my all time favorites.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      "Atticus Finch understood the reality of integrity. . . He practiced what he preached." That's why we all love him; he made the story. Thanks for underscoring the kind of character the real word needs.

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