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The J-List Literary Fictional Favorite Characters/Atticus Finch

Updated on August 26, 2015

Cover; To Kill a Mockingbird

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

J-List Summary

Character Atticus Finch

Story To Kill a Mockingbird

Author Harper Lee

J-List # 5

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.”

The J List – Top 10 Literary Fictional Favorite Characters

1. Gabriel “Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) James Baldwin

2. Miss Clara “The War Room” (2015) Chris Fabry et al

3. Hawkeye “The Last of the Mohicans” (1826) James Fenimore Cooper

4. Julie “Julie of the Wolves” (1972) Jean Craighead George

5. Atticus Finch “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) Harper Lee

6. Teresa Mendoza “Queen of the South” (2002) Arturo Perez-Reverte

7. Patria Mercedes Mirabel “In the Time of the Butterflies” (1994) Julia Alvarez

8. Mathu “A Gathering of Old Men” (1983) Ernest J Gaines

9. Yusuf Ali aka ‘Professor Rat’ “ The Washington Square Ensemble” (1984) Madison Smartt Bell

10. Bagheera “ The Jungle Book” (1894) Rudyard Kipling

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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.


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


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    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      Yes, Atticus was a class act.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 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 3 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.