To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus Finch

Whether he is a father, lawyer, friend or foe, Atticus Finch exudes prominent traits admired by his children and the community. He stands as a honest and morally upright character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Maycomb, a small town in Alabama and is primarily told from the eyes of nine-year-old Jean Louise Finch (Scout). Her father, Atticus Finch, takes a controversial case to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. Scout alongside her brother Jem, learn of their town’s prejudice and hypocrisy, ultimately losing their innocence and gaining a better understanding of the world they live in. Atticus Finch, the father of Jem and Scout, portrays an empathetic nature that stands above all due to his constant effort to understand people’s difficulties and consider the feelings of others.

Throughout the book, Atticus is found carrying out numerous deeds that he does out of consideration of the well-being others. There are two cases of Atticus’ empathy that standout the most. One example was how he helped Mr. Cunningham pay him. Another was how he responded to Bob Ewell’s menaces. One of the earliest instances that displays Atticus is how he handled Mr. Cunningham’s debt to him. Mr. Cunningham did not know if “[he’ll] ever be able to pay [Atticus]” (22). Atticus reassured him to “let that be the least of [his] worries” (23). He understood Mr. Cunningham’s situation and that he was not able to pay him in an orthodox way. Instead of creating more problems for him, he allowed Mr. Cunningham to pay him in crops. Atticus does not acknowledge these payments knowing it would embarrass him. Finch approaches situations considering other people’s feelings and difficulties. He was being empathetic by grasping Mr. Cunningham’s dilemma and being flexible enough to help him. Atticus was portrayed as an empathetic person in this case as well as several others. Instead of taking advantage of Mr. Cunningham, he follows his own advice of “[climbing] into his skin and [walking] around in it”(33). Atticus tries to see things through his eyes in order to feel his struggles. The amount of thought and time Atticus puts in his clients illustrates his empathetic nature. In addition, Atticus’ interaction with Bob Ewell is another case of his empathy. After being spat on and threatened, Atticus did nothing in response because he understood that “[Bob] had to take it out on somebody and [he’d] rather it be [him] than that houseful of children out there”(249). Bob Ewell insulted, threatened, and spat on Atticus Finch. Instead of fighting, he did nothing because he understood Bob’s anger and knew it was better that he received it rather than Bob’s children. Atticus was considering the children’s safety in this. He thought rationally and saw things from Bob Ewell’s perspective and realized why he was mad. He knew that his anger needed to be taken out on someone and chose himself. In order to safe the children from a beating, he took Bob’s insults and even understood where he was coming from. Atticus is illustrated as empathetic on multiple levels. He cared enough to understand Bob Ewell who threatened to hurt him. He also thought of Bob’s children which include Mayella who accused Tom Robinson. Both of these examples depict Atticus as the most empathetic character because he tries to understand everyone, even his enemies.

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