In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, it tells the story of discrimination of black people in the 1930s through the eyes of a little girl named Scout Finch, she is unlike any other girl in Maycomb, Alabama, and this is because of her father Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch is a lawyer who is a single dad of Scout and Jem Finch, living in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. He is one of very few people in Maycomb who has instilled justice and equal liking of all races into himself. When he chooses to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, accused of raping a white girl, he finds himself in the anger and fury of most of the white community. But during those times of discrimination and racism, Atticus’s response to conflict makes him the better person
In To Kill a Mockingbird, unlike characters like Bob Ewell who lies in court and abuses his eldest daughter, Atticus has the characteristics and traits which demonstrate a person with the highest views of morality. Atticus’s characteristics proves that he demonstrates the highest views of morality through his children, the Tom Robinson trial, and Calpurnia, their maid.

Atticus demonstrates the characteristics and traits of a person with the highest views of morality through his children. He shows his morality through the few, but most important lessons he teaches them.”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee 39). Atticus taught this lesson to Scout after she was complaining to Atticus about how Miss Caroline is a horrible person. Knowing that everybody has their reasons for their actions, Atticus told Scout this not taking anybody’s side. Atticus wanted her to realize that Miss Caroline is new and she is trying to figure out things in Maycomb, and the automatic assumption that she is a horrible person is not a very mature and right way to think of people. Atticus had also taught his children about racism, saying, “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men everyday of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash” (295). Even though Atticus tells them about racism, morality and racism connect through this response. Cheating black men or any different race as a white man is racist and wrong. Atticus wants his children to follow in his footsteps where he loves and appreciates all people, because you can’t judge who they are without digging deep into their personality. This important lesson teaches Scout to be the better person, even when she faces conflicts of racism in Maycomb. Lastly, Atticus was asked by Scout why he is defending Tom Robinson even though he shouldn’t, he replies, “For a number of reasons. The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again” (100). Atticus’s response to this question was very straight up. Being Atticus and knowing what’s right and wrong. He knew that if he had not chosen to defend Tom Robinson that this would show a very bad example of morality to Jem and Scout and he could not consider himself a good father figure.

Atticus demonstrates the characteristics and traits of a person with the highest views of morality through the Tom Robinson trial. When Atticus choose to take Tom Robinson’s side of the case, knowing that it was the right thing to do, he knew that the opinions of the citizens in Maycomb would be against Atticus. Towards the beginning of the book, Atticus’s decision to take on the case states, ” This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience-Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man” (139). By stating this, he knew as a Christian that it would be the most ungodly thing in the world if he didn’t help Tom Robinson, which would make him ashamed to love and care about God if he couldn’t care about just one man. “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards” (272). Not just Atticus, but the whole town knew what was right and wrong with interaction between black and white people, especially with the Ewells. But it is interesting how what Mayella did to Tom was pretty much ignored by the people and the law. Atticus knew that what Mayella did was just as wrong as Tom ‘raping’ her. Atticus during the trial of his final testimony says, “You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women—black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire” (273). This saying is what makes Atticus the most moral human being in To Kill A Mockingbird. He just told everyone that he has sinned himself because even though he may seem perfect to everyone in Maycomb, he has done wrong in his life, but he is willing to admit it himself to over hundreds of people in one courtroom without actually saying it. Altogether, Atticus knowing the discrimination towards black people such as Tom Robinson, Atticus knew it was the most moral thing to do because he knew he had to help him, because who else would have.

Atticus demonstrates the characteristics and traits of a person with the highest views of morality through his maid Calpurnia. When told by his sister Aunt Alexandra if Calpurnia could leave since she’s here and can take care of the kids, he comments, “Alexandra, Calpurnia’s not leaving this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn’t have got along without her all these years. She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll simply have to accept things the way they are” (182). Atticus is defending Calpurnia from his own sister. Calpurnia is a valuable family member of the Finch household, and Atticus knows that sending her away is liking taking an important piece of a puzzle out of the puzzle set. “Besides, I don’t think the children have suffered one bit from her having brought them up. If anything, she’s been harder on them in some way than a mother would have been… she’s never indulged them the way most colored nurses do. She tried to bring them up according to their lights, and Cal’s lights are pretty good–and another thing, the children love her” (183).

Atticus has the personality traits and characteristics that demonstrate the highest views of morality, unlike Bob Ewell who lies in court and abuses his eldest daughter. He demonstrates his morally personality through his children, Calpurnia, and the Tom Robinson case. Based on this argument, Atticus’s choices he makes during the conflicted times in his life, like taking on the Tom Robinson case, he knows that it is the best moral choice he can make. In the real world, if everyone could make such moral choices like Atticus does, the attitudes and views of the world would be a much better place to live in.